Rough Patch

There was evil in the air last Saturday.

A horrific tragedy unfolded in my community when a husband decided to kill his wife and children, before lighting their home on fire and subsequently committing suicide.  On the same day, a friend had her basement renters also commit suicide.  On the same day, an Airman I mentor lost his brother in a terrible car accident.

These three separate events, in three separate cities, have impacted my life this week.  Not because I knew the key players, but because it has impacted people I care about. It has impacted my church’s youth group. It has impacted my military community. It has impacted the elementary school.

When I found out about my Airmen’s brother’s death, I told him that I was available if he needed to chat. He’s Muslim.  I’m Christian.  I wanted to offer prayers, but was unsure how to say that without offending him or his family.  I was treading softly, as we are both Active Duty.  He told me, “Chief, I’m going through a rough patch.”  And my immediate response was this:  “It’s okay to be going through a rough patch. It’s not okay to stay there for a long time.”

No one enjoys hard times….the rough patches.  And yet, we’ve all had a rough patch.  The rough patches could be unemployment, divorce, infertility or the rough patch could be health related.  The rough patch could be gossip, slander, low self-esteem or loneliness.  The rough patch could be death:  a family member, a murder, or a suicide.  There are thousands of reasons for the rough patches. Rough Patches are really hard when you feel as though you have done everything correctly, but you still have to suffer through the rough patch.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”  So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”        1 Peter 4:12-19 (NIV)

 In 1 Peter 4:12-19, we read that there will be suffering for the Christian.  We will see and experience the rough patches. Essentially, we should expect some amount of trial and tribulation, and yet we should also continue to press forward looking towards God for help and comfort.

The rough patch offers us time to examine ourselves while in the trial and allows us to entrust ourselves to God within the trial.

Peter warns us in verse 12 that the trials are expected. Yet, we are often surprised by the intensity of the trials.  Peter refers to the trials as a “Fiery Ordeal.” I don’t know about you, but the adjective “fiery” makes me feel like this is a super big deal!  Fiery is intense.

More than the intensity, I think I’m often surprised by the purpose of the rough patch. On a brain level, I understand that God is allowing us time to draw closer to Him.  On a heart level, I want so desperately to have everyone healthy and happy around me!  I understand the trial’s ultimate purpose, but like most of us, I would rather not fulfill the purpose through a rough patch.

When there is evil in the air…when we are facing hard times…when we are going through a rough patch, it’s so much easier to bear the burden in remembering that our God is for us. He is with us. He is allowing us to stretch and grow through trials in order to be closer to Him.

The rough patches suck.  They’re horrible.  But it’s okay to be in the rough patch.  They have purpose. They let us grow.

Just don’t stay there for too long.

~Emily

P.S. If you are contemplating staying in the rough patch too long, I am praying that you seek Godly council.Find a strong Christian woman to pray with, talk to your Pastor, call a suicide hotline…please, please, please get help.

The rough patch is meant to grow you…not break you.

Are you there?

When my husband travels, my 7 year old often crawls into bed with me in the middle of the night.  I almost always hear him open the door as he shuffles to my side of the bed.  90% of the times his sweet voice says, “Mama, can I snuggle with you?” I always lift the covers and let him settle in next to me.  I love that he still holds my hand as he falls back to sleep.  I love listening to his breathing even out.  I love his little tufts of hair tickling my face. I love each of these things because I know that it could end at any minute.  At any minute he could grow up—just enough—to not need his Mom in the middle of the night.

While Jeromy was on a fly fishing trip recently, Kambell opened the door and crawled into bed on Daddy’s side of the bed.  I was silent, listening to him settle into the blankets.  He whispered, “Mama?”  I answered, “Humm?”  And he simply said, “I just wanted to make sure you were there” and then he fell asleep.

I lay there thinking about how innocently he asked if I was there.  And how quickly he was reassured.  I thought about another innocent question, which requires reassurance. “Abba, are you there?”

How often do we question if our Heavenly Father is there?   It’s a simple question requesting reassurance that He’s by our side. I can think of dozens of times in my life, mostly in times of turmoil, where I doubted if God was there. Have you done the same? Is it easier to figure out your own solution because it appears God isn’t answering a prayer?

For years, my prayer was to become pregnant.  After dozens of failed attempts at In Vetro (that was super affordable on a young Airman’s salary), miscarriages, and monthly tears, I gave up on having a biological child.  Multiple military moves negated my eligibility to become an adoptive parent…even in a high-risk adoption scenario.  When the toll of all that medical intervention created a scenario where a hysterectomy was necessary, I was devastated.  I questioned if God had heard my prayers.  Did He really hold each one of my tears in His hand?  Did He know that my heart was breaking every single month? That it broke at every single baby shower I attended? That simple television commercial featuring cooing babies would send me from the room in tears?

In Genesis 16:2, we see a story of similar heartache, in regards to babies and God’s presence. God had promised Abraham that he would have many descendants.  Ten years after the promise, Sarah had yet to bare a child.  As was the custom of the day, Sarah chose to send her servant, Hagar to her husband.  When Hagar became pregnant, Abraham’s fertility heartache was over.  But Sarah’s became compounded when daily she observed a child that was not of her womb.

While I don’t understanding sending another woman to my husband’s bed, I do understand the heartache of infertility that Sarah faced.  I understand the desperation that led her to decide God wasn’t with her….that His promise was taking too long.

And yet, God is with us. Always.  He’s there to reassure us.  He’s there with His promises.  He provides His Son Jesus as a way to ensure we each have a way to Him.  Matthew 1:23 (NIV) says, “Behold, the Virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.” Immanuel translates to “God with us.”

Amazing, Abba. Providing a promise through his child, Immanuel.  Always with us.  As I lay in the bed, listening to the slumbered breath of my child, I was reassured. My God made me a mother when I least expected it.

God is with us.  He hears those prayers.  He makes a way…even when it seems there is no way possible. Ladies—be assured with your innocent questions and know that God is there.

~Emily

 

 

 

 

Hang-ups, Phobias, & Quirks…Continued

When you wrestle with deep soul secret keeping, you risk your relationship with God, with yourself, and with others.

In 1998, I practiced a quickly growing, cultish behavior when I joined a Wiccan coven.  I committed; I practiced; I researched; I participated; I went all in with a pagan walk and turned my back on our Heavenly Father.

For seven years, I deliberately disobeyed God.  I denied Christ. I knew I was wrong. I kept it from my friends and family.

I became the deceivable woman.

2 Corinthians 11:3 (NIV) states, “the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness.” Deceived exapato means “to seduce wholly; “ “To persuade into disobedience.”

Utilizing the 2 Corinthians passage, we are able to see that in Genesis, Eve is an example of a woman who was persuaded to do wrong.  When she was alone, she was vulnerable to temptation.

She was the first deceivable woman.

In my last post, I stated that quirky tendencies are not necessary sinful.  It’s when we keep secrets deep in our soul that we become vulnerable to sinful behavior.

In the case of practicing Wicca, I was committing sinful behavior, which I was keeping secret.  Is there a difference? Perhaps.

Once I shared the secret of my sinful behavior with my closest friends and family, they immediately began praying for me to be restored to a Christian walk.  That did not happen immediately, but it did happen eventually.  When we selectively share our hearts with other believers, they are able to bolster us.  They are able to hold us accountable.  They are able to approach the Father on our behalf.

Last week’s hang ups, phobias, and quirks seem very miniscule when compared to my absolute avoidance of the occult aisle at the bookstore. I avoid horoscopes, moon cycles, and other pagan related calendar items.  I steer my child away from tarot cards and subtle pagan television shows. Avoiding and dismissing occult and pagan related issues has become a hang-up, phobia, and quirk.  It’s one that will not be a secret in my life, because I refuse to have that sin ever take hold of me or my house again.

I was the deceivable woman. It wore me out being that woman with the deep-seated secret.  If you have sinful behaviors that are wearing you out…that you are keeping secret…I am urging you to find a strong Christian woman to confide in so that she can go to the Lord in prayer on your behalf.

Turn from the secrecy. Ensure you aren’t falling into a sin trap because of secrets.

~Emily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hang-ups, Phobias, & Quirks

I despise glitter.  I cringe at the mention of the word “moist.” I swallow bubble gum.  If using a disposable cup, my coffee lid opening must line up with the seam of the paper cup.  My pillow case openings must face to the outside edges of the bed. I can’t read a book without first looking at the copyright date.

Hang-ups, phobias, and generalized quirks are often more problematic when you try to keep them a secret. I have some pretty obvious ones. Those closest to me either protect me or tease me about them.

I despise glitter. Glitter is such an iconic girlie symbol. I guess I’m not a true girlie-girl, because I’ve hated glitter since I was a small child. It gets everywhere and is uncontrollable.  Glitter is the herpes of the arts and craft world. I appreciate the efforts of my friend, Lori, who actually covered the front of a glittery Christmas card with clear package tape before sending.  Last year, I did not appreciate my son’s Kindergarten teacher sending “glittery dream” poems home for the night before the 1stday of school.  I don’t want it anywhere near me and it’s been banned from my house.

I cringe at the mention of the word “moist.”  In my head I know that a word, is a word, is a word.  I know it can’t hurt me.  And yet…this particular word makes me physically cringe. It sounds so yucky. So gross.  My ears delete whole conversations that contain this word.  My little one LOVES to say the word “moist” around me…just so he can watch my reaction and laugh.  A few times a year, my Facebook peeps send me the video of handsome Hollywood men pronouncing the word.  It could be the weatherman, a baking show, my cutie 7 year old or a hottie actor…it doesn’t matter who says it…it’s gross.

I swallow bubble gum. If I put a piece of gum in my mouth, within a few minutes I forget that I’m chewing gum and swallow.  Typically, I refuse gum.

If using a disposable cup, my coffee lid opening must line up with the seam of the paper cup.  I will stand at the Starbucks pick up counter and change my lid, if necessary.

My pillow case openings must face to the outside edges of the bed.  I’ve tried to let this one go.  I just lay in bed obsessing about how the pillowcases are wrong, until I finally move them.

I can’t read a book without first looking at the copyright date.  Seriously.  Why?!?!? I blame this on my 3rd grade teacher who had us look at all the title page information before we were allowed to read.

These are just a few of the silly things that make up Emily.  Silly things that I embrace about myself and I’m pretty open about them. When do the silly things become a problem?

Hang-ups, phobias, and generalized quirks become more problematic when you try to hide them.

The Bible addresses concerns about hidden sin.

“Who can discern his errors?  Acquit me of hidden faults.” ~Psalm 19:12 (NIV)

“He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” ~Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)

“Have I covered my transgressions like Adam…”~Job 31:33 (NIV)

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” ~Romans 1:18

I’m not saying that quirky tendencies are sinful.  I hope that dislike of glitter or copyright dates aren’t sinful quirks!  Rather I am contending that if kept quiet, the secrets of our souls can become sinful in nature.

I have wrestled with deep-soul-secret keeping and it will wear you out.  How do you turn from secrecy?  How do you ensure you aren’t falling into a sin trap because of secrets?

To be continued…

~Emily

 

 

 

Handle it…

God will never give you more than you can handle.

Two women were standing in front of me at the checkout this week. One was discussing her pending divorce and child custody issues, while also disclosing her mother’s major health issue. In the next breath she also told a story about her horrific supervisor. The entire time she was sharing, I kept thinking that the checker was taking waaaaaaay too long and that this lady was probably violating some type of sharing statutes. I had little patience and clearly even less grace.

Then the woman next to the over-sharer said, “Thankfully, God will never give you more than you can handle.”

Most certainly more grace than I had for the scenario.

The statement stuck with me throughout this week. God will never give you more than you can handle. I have heard several Christians say this. Frankly, I think I have heard it said to more women then men. Is it true?

The more I thought about it, the more I disagree with this statement. First and foremost, I have not seen this in the Bible, which is cause to pause and reflect why we say this to others. Secondly, I flat out don’t believe it without some caveats.

God has never intended for us to “handle” anything on our own…ever…so why would we think He’d give us any amount to “handle” on our own? The reality is this: He wants to handle every detail with us…in every scenario. So the comment that he’ll never give us more than we can handle is untrue when we take it to mean that we must singularly handle the situation. If you understand that God will never give you more than you can handle with Him…well, then I am more inclined to agree.

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

The catch is that you have to handle any situation with God. With God. This requires that you talk to Him, trust Him, and rely on Him. That you allow Him to handle it for you and with you. At this point, “He will provide a way out so you can endure it.” The way out is simple. He is the way out.

God won’t give you more than you can handle…He’ll give you exactly what you can handle with His assistance.

Ladies, if you are going through a painful breakup; God wants to handle it with you.

If you have medical issues you are facing for yourself, your family, your friends; God wants to handle it with you.

If you have a horrible boss, a tough work situation, or no job at all; God wants to handle it with you.

If you lose your wallet, get in a car accident, have childhood traumas, unpaid bills, drama with the neighbor…it doesn’t matter what it is; God wants to handle it with you.

“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light” Matthew 11: 28-30 (NIV)

His burden is light. So trust Him by giving Him a portion of yours. As promised in the Bible, He will assist with “handling” it, so you don’t have to do it alone.

~Emily