Friday, September 30, 2011

"Do Whatever He Tells You."

Years ago I was in a Bible study class with, what is now, a dear friend-Anne. I can only guess her age-from her pure white hair and the memories she spoke of,  she was in her seventies. How precious her faith. I met her, I don't know, some seven years ago.

During the Bible study year, we would spend a week studying a chapter of the Book from the Bible we were covering at home and then come together and share what the Lord had shown us. All week I couldn't wait for class. I would arrive early, settle my children in their classes and then run to grab a seat somewhere close to Anne. Every word she spoke was completely inspiring, touching, true and deep. I would say to myself, 'One day Lord, I have to have the kind of faith Anne has. I want to see you as she sees you. I want to have her strength, her fortitude, convictions, boldness, and complete and utter joy.'

Funny, we became true friends. I say funny because I had reasons to adore her-to follow her around like a lost and hungry puppy, but she somehow adored me. I'd come around-our eyes meet -and she would light up, stretch out her arm and wave for me. she had stories of faith to tell and I had eager ears to hear. We were a pair.

Don't misunderstand me-she had a life of struggles. Hardship. Downright tragedy. Her husband at the time was suffering horribly from alzheimer's disease and she was his only care giver. She held on to her husband with one hand and the Bible with the other. I never saw her faith waiver.

One day after class we were walking out together. I asked her, "Anne, what is your favorite scripture in the Bible?"  She looked at me, stopped and smiled. immediately she spoke-without a second look, or guess, with complete assurance she said, "Do whatever he tells you." John 2:5. she continued... "I have tried to live my whole life by these words."

I truly thought she was going to say the scripture about carrying your cross, or it is not i that live, but Christ in me, or  I am the way, the truth and the life...or even from the Old Testament-the Lord is my shepherd.  but - how simple. How true. And it was just like her to have found that scripture- how lost it is among the story of Jesus' first miracle and among so many other scriptures. I was convicted. I was pierced.

I have challenged myself to live by these precious words. To "do whatever He tells you" brain sometimes cannot conceive how to do that all the time, but I have had to really trust that if He is asking me to do it, then He is not only going to be with me along the way, but also make me able.

In the past few years I've been challenged so many times. For instance- homeschooling my children. People think that just because my degrees are in education that I wanted to or even dreamed to home school, but to be honest, I never thought I'd do it. I was totally scared of the responsibility of teaching every grade to my children. I was a teacher yes, but I taught the same grade for several years before switching. In homeschooling every year is a new grade, new books, new curriculum to grasp.  I did not think I could handle it. I also wasn't so sure about the whole "socialization" thing. I knew some home schooled kids-they weren't -I don't know. But He asked, I obeyed. 

Another time I was asked to lead a vacation Bible school at my church. I used to sit back in awe of people who did huge things like that- that was not me. I never saw myself actually leading a VBS. I had never even attended one as a child!  Stuff like that-God asking me to do things that I was either afraid of doing or just never saw myself in that role- I said yes.

In my years of reading the Bible-(I am not boasting by any means)- I am seriously just a girl...who loves and adores the words within it. I have found it to be a treasure chest of rare and amazing jewels.  I read it over and over again and fine new meanings that touch my heart. New understandings of our Father in heaven and our Lord Jesus. I can never get enough. No book I have ever read has moved me, touched me, changed me as the Word of God.

Anyway, I have read the stories of Abraham, Moses, Daniel and his three buddies,  Nehemiah, Ezra, Esther, Paul, Peter, John- these are people who did anything God asked them to do. I watch movies like Braveheart, Luther, Amazing Grace, Glory - and watch how these men followed God unto death! They did whatever He asked them-and what a profound difference they had on this earth. I remember a quote from Braveheart- a friend is arguing with William Wallace over the idea of fighting England and Wallace says, 'I want to have a home, be married, and have children too, but this must be done.'  these men went against their own desires-dreams for their own lives to answer the call of God for their lives. Abandoning their own earthly desires, to do whatever He asked them to do.

Am I willing to do whatever He asks me to do? To pray with the cashier at Walmart? To share the Gospel with a person in the parking lot? To say hi and make a friend with a new comer at church? To get truly active in a ministry-put my whole heart into it? To take a missionary trip? To commit to read the Bible every day? To abandon addictions? To get into counseling and be emotionally healthy? To love my husband as myself? To stop finding comfort in food, but in Him?

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes..." Romans 1:15-17

My prayer is that I will do whatever He asks of me. To have a heart open, not closed- not filled with so many issues that it snuffs out His voice.- to hear Him. -to be ready to obey. my prayer is that I never tire of the Bible. That with each opening, my heart will race to hear from God. my prayer is that I will pass on this love of God's Word to my children. my prayer is that iI will, 'Do whatever he tells me' and make it the verse I live by.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Oh, to be Perfetc...(oops!)

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not a perfectionist, but ooooh to be perfect.

I never realized how hard I used to strive to be perfect- until I was too worn out from trying. Before I was married I would wake up at 5:30am have Bible time, have a light breakfast, get ready for work, work like a dog all day and into the night and be in bed by 9pm each night.
                                  (don't make fun of me--trying to be perfect takes alot of energy-I was sleepy by nine).
I remember once I was in bed and reading my Bible at 8pm. my sister called and asked me what I was doing. I told her and then described how absolutely exhausted I was. She then asked, "Well, then, why don't you just go to bed?" My reply, "I have my dignity."

After marriage I continued in my schedule while adding his needs to mine and life still ran smoothly. After my first two children life really never skipped a beat. House was always clean, kid's baths were done on schedule, meals great, and I was still skinny. I guess things started to get harder with babies three and four. I was still trying to have house and family beautiful without any out side help. I worked like an animal to keep up my idea of "perfect." With baby five and six-well, we have a schedule, but lets just say it gets alot of grace. So, not house beautiful and sometimes the kids are smelly.

I would love to be regimented with my diet and exercise. Restrict white sugar from our food and exercise at least three times a week. I would love to have perfectly folded clothes in my dresser, as well as in my kids dressers. I would love to have every closet in my home in complete and perfect order. (I just dare you to open a closet in my house - if you do, let me warn you that you will probably get bonked on the head with some unstable object that got chucked in it and the door forcibly shut after it). And oh how I would love the massive amounts of toys to somehow respond with the snap of my fingers like they did for Mary Poppins. Oh, to be perfect.

I need like an "Alice" from the Brady Bunch. Golly, she did everything-(not too sure what Mrs. Brady did), but Alice- man, she was great. She cooked all the meals, did all the dishes, the laundry, the vacuuming, even had time to talk to the kids and plan to get a special locket for Jan. Or maybe I need a secretary-no I'll take an "Alice." So, how can I do everything?

I asked a friend once how she had her house in such immaculate order. She started with a stern and annoyed 'Can't believe you don't know this yet' voice: "Get up at 5:30am, make beds, get kids dressed, wash down the bathrooms, make breakfast, clean up, and out the door." So, I stupidly asked, "But how do you keep everything so perfect?" - meaning-aren't there days where you just don't care? Days where you are just too tired and days where the other people in the house are feeling the same way?  (When I tell you her house was perfect-I mean perfect. She showed me her closets!)  Anyway, she said, "Ellen, stick to the plan."  Well, that didn't really help because I can't force myself to be perfect anymore. I am just too tired of all that.

I know my heart. My heart loves my family, my friends, people. I love to play games and laugh, watch special movies and pop popcorn the old fashion way. I love date nights, love throwing baby showers for friends, love Bible study, love gatherings, love talking with people, love ministry. My heart...BUT there's life to attend to. How do I balance it all?  I can't seem to have it all. Perfect house and heart content- if I clean too much-I don't have the "people" time I want and if I have too much "people" time, my house suffers.

I'm still working this out, but I have found that being disappointed in myself for not having house beautiful is not what God would want me to do. Feeling like a failure is not of Him. being upset with my kids because I stepped on a Lego piece, or upset with my hubby because the mail is left out, or upset with myself for... oooohh too many things to list- just can't be good. and on the other hand- not being a good steward of the things (home, toys, clothes)  He's given us isn't good either. balance might be the key...but i have's really not. I've tried the tight-wire balancing act of balancing home, family, friends -I fall every time.

The true answer, I think I have found is knowing that God really loves me no matter what. Sounds so simple that it actually sounds stupid. But truly, if I really believed that God loved me no matter what-I'd be a different person. Just think:
House clean-He loves me. House a wreck-He loves me.
Time with kids-He loves me. Time alone-He loves me.
Over-eating- He loves me. Eating healthy- He loves me.
Closets crazy -He loves me. Closets in order -He loves me.

I'm not giving credence for myself to have a house that's a mess, or even socializing too much- I'm seeing that the problem is the motive. If I'm feeling bad about myself and condemning myself because I didn't succeed at being perfect then that's where the problem really lies-the problem is thinking that God is disappointed in me-and that can never be.

To be assured of His love. To know that He really delights in me. To be at peace in His love and acceptance sounds great doesn't it?  But I gotta say that most times I'm running around too stressed out, and worried to settle down long enough to know that He is pleased with me before I've even started my day- before I even write down my "to do list." He's pleased with me whether I accomplish the list or not.  I'm His daughter and that's what makes Him happy.

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
...and for us moms, -neither clean house nor dirty, neither chubby nor skinny, neither socializing nor being a loner, neither reading your Bible every minute of the day nor having dust build up on it, neither well behaved children nor strong willed children, will ever separate us from the love of God.

If He is pleased with me no matter what, shouldn't I be pleased with me no matter what?

Lord, my prayer is that I start my day knowing and believing that you are delighted in me no matter what and as I go through my day You help me to accomplish the task that are right for the day-not too much, not too little. I love Jesus.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I Roll Six Deep

A week ago I was told I roll six deep. Funny, I never saw myself rolling six deep. I never saw myself rolling one deep. Do I really qualify to roll six deep? Too late now, I'm already here.

Growing up, the youngest of seven children, in a home where everyone was running down their own and different paths, I was left to figure out by myself, which was my path- that was tough work. I was quiet and shy. I never asked questions. So to try and forge a path alone without help was a daily and arduous task for me. I was always concerned about how I was possibly going to make it through to the end of the day that I never stopped and dreamed.

I never thought about going to high school and what that would be like. College was for old people and I never thought that I would ever be old enough to go. I never dreamed of how I'd meet "Mr. Right" and for that matter how many children I would have. I hear my friends now say to each other, "So, how many kids did you dream of having when you were young?"  And they actually answer with a clear and definite opinion. "Well, I dreamt of having two girls, and a boy..." so many of them even had the names picked out too. Not me. The day to day took all the concentration I had-it left no time for dreams.

I plotted along. Of course I became old enough to go to college and then went. I continued to plot along and managed to not only get a job, but also a master's degree. I found an apartment and even found Mr. Right. (Not to shabby for a girl who had no dreams or aspirations).

I remember after meeting Mr. Right how he would talk about one day wanting children-possibly five! (Gulp!) How could I have five children? What did I know about having children? Being a mom-a mommy? I was pretty nervous.

Well, one day, while visiting my Mr. Right's family, I got to talking with his mom. She was telling me her life's story. She told me about dad and raising their five amazing children. (Each one is so precious and loves the Lord). As she talked I thought, "There is no way I will ever be able to be a good mom. I mean I didn't have a mom to teach me how to be a mom. I wasn't raised really knowing Jesus-how could I teach  my children?" Well, she then told me how she wasn't raised in a Christian home. How she asked Jesus into her heart when she was a teenager. WHAT??? That's my story! How is it possible for her to have raised Godly children when she herself wasn't raised a Christian? All of a sudden hope began to rise in me. maybe I could have children and just maybe I could be a good mommy.

That night I wanted to read about Mary, the mother of Jesus. What's her story? You see, I was raised believing that Mary was sinless, perfect- and that's why God chose her to be the mother of our sinless, perfect Savior. As I read the Bible I saw that simply wasn't true. No where in the Bible does it say that Mary was sinless or perfect--that's what makes it an amazing story. That's the wonder of God right there! God uses sinners. God uses imperfect people to carry out His will. He asks us to follow Him and obey. It is up to us to say yes. Mary said, "Yes."

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Luke 1:38

I had to think-could I be like Mary? Could I obey? Would I say, "Yes?"
Mr. Right and I got married and prayed about having children.
We said, "Yes"---
---and now, I roll six deep.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Let My Love Open the Door

Back when I was a teenager the song, "Let My Love Open the Door" by Pete Townshend was pretty popular. I actually loved the song and it's music video.
In case you don't know the song-some of the words to the song are as follows:

When everything feels all over
  Let my love open the door, ooh When everybody seems unkind
I'll give you a four leaf clover
  Let my love open the door, ooh Take all the worry out of your mind

Let my love open the door, ooh
To your heart
Let my love open the door, ooh
Let my love open the door, ooh
Let my love open the door, ooh

I have the only key to your heart
I can stop you falling apart
Try today, you'll find this way
Come on and give me a chance to say


When tragedy befalls you
  Let my love open the door, ooh Don't let it drag you down
Love can cure your problems
  Let my love open the door, ooh You're so lucky I'm around

During that same time I had a best friend-Marla. Golly, I don't even know where to begin or how to describe how amazing our friendship was. We met when we were three years old, knew each other throughout grammar school, but it wasn't until eighth grade when we became the very best friends in the world.

She was the opposite of me in many ways, but we loved each other so much. We hung out with each other all the time-I mean allll the time. I'll list a couple of examples:
-I slept at her house so much that her dad, which I called "dad," asked me right out, "Hey El, when are you going to start paying rent?" and then laughed. (She slept at my house too-although I'm not too sure if she ever slept at my house as much as I was at hers).
- We went babysitting with each other-isn't that funny? If I had a babysitting job the parents I worked for knew that Marla would be with me and vice versa.
- We even got a job working at Waldbaums together. (A store I think you can only find in N.Y.)
- I transferred to her high school for my junior and senior year.
-We even crashed each other's "family" vacations.

We were never a part-that is, if we could help it.

So getting back to the song. One day I was hanging out with Marla and singing it, but instead of saying, "Let My Love Open the Door"  I said, "Let Mar-la open the door... to your heart."  and for years that's just how I sang it. She was everything to me. I have more stories of her stored up in my heart then I think I would ever have time to get down on pen and paper or blog ;)

It was her constant love and devotion to me that truly saw me through some of my darkest hours.  Her kindness, understanding, humor, acceptance and quite frankly, just putting up with hundreds of my pranks that saw me through and gave me hope that my life could be worth something some day.

Once, she gave me a "key" to put on my key chain- she had the locket on hers. -as strongly as I loved her-when I got that little key I knew she loved me right back. (I still have the key). 

Years passed-she went off to Boston College. I stayed in Flushing, Queens. I grew so depressed without her. I shut down. Our friendship barely survived. I gave up. She didn't.

During our time a part I was very lost- and that is how, I guess, it has to be in order to be found. Jesus found me. I couldn't imagine anyone ever taking her place in my heart. She seemed to fill it perfectly, but Jesus is the only one who can truly do that.

More years pass-many more years-around fifteen, when I was driving along with the kids in the car, I put in my husband's Audio Adrenaline cd. We were listening to it when all of a sudden the song, "Let My Love Open the Door" came on. I couldn't believe it. What were they doing singing a secular song? I listened to the words again and they were singing it as if God was singing it to us. How neat is that?  This one song -this same song that reinforced Marla's love for me and brought me hope is now being used by God in much the same way.

I will always remember Marla when I sing that song, but now I receive it as God asking me to open my heart to Him.

  "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me." Revelation 3:20

(By the way, Marla and I are still dear friends. She still lives in Boston and I'm here. Distance doesn't really matter between best friends. We pick up where we left off, remember the old times, and laugh. Love you moo and happy _ _st birthday-9/24!!!!!).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Why I Don't Mind "Ellen."

My parents were unaware of what the name Ellen meant when they named me. You see, they named all my brothers and sisters after family members or Saints of the Catholic Church. Well, there is no family member named Ellen. ("Ellen" is not exactly an Italian name). And can you believe that there is not one Saint in all of the Catholic Church named Ellen! So, you can see why when I grew up I wanted to know the meaning of my name and why I hoped it to be something special.

I remember when I was eleven years old my family and I were vacationing in Orlando. We walked into a Floridian souvenir shop. I searched every little key chain, kitchen magnet etc. trying to find my name with the meaning on it. Nothing, but then I came across my name on a coffee mug. It was a white mug with violet writing. It said, " ELLEN...means light." I have got to say I wasn't too impressed. "Light."-how was that something to hold on to?

While standing there holding the mug and rather disappointed, my mother came over to me to see what I had chosen to buy -I showed her the mug. She said, "Wow." Then preceded to tell me a story.

"After giving birth to you," she said, "I was very sick. I had had a physical collapse. I was sent away for three months to heal and rest, but before I left you I prayed to God." "God, " she said,  "This is your child now-I have to leave her to you."  She told me that after the three month respite she was afraid to come home to a three month old baby. She confessed that she still felt weak and wasn't exactly sure if she was up to taking care of me. She thought about the crying and work it required to take care of a new baby,  but then she said, "You were not at all what I had imagined. I would lay in bed with you and you would look at me and smile. Your smile brought me peace." She said that others would try and take me from her so she could rest, but she wouldn't let them. she loved just being with me. I made her happy. I was her light.

With a contentment in my heart I chose that mug as my souvenir.  What eleven year old buys a mug?  Me, that's who. I really cherished it-my sisters made fun of me, but that was okay because they just didn't understand. I kind of wish I still had it. It had chipped somehow and then like all cherished mugs it became a pen holder on my desk. I guess I don't really need it cause I know who I am now.

Years later when I was in college, walking closer with the Lord than I ever had, I was a pretty happy person.  One day as I was coming into my parents house and at the same time my father was coming in too, but he came through the side door. We met up in the kitchen. He was miserable -I was happy. He looked at me and said, "You are always so happy" and then smiled. Before I knew what he was doing he made me get down on one knee.  He got out the closest thing he had to a sword, a long, knife sharpener thingy, and "dubbed" me his "sunshine" his "light."  My father was not a man of many words, let alone kind ones. It meant a great deal to me. 

So, "Ellen" isn't so bad-it means light and truly, if I can be a light to this world then I've actually lived up to my name.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Name is Ellie.

Hi, my name is Ellie. No, it's not the name given to me at birth, but it's the name I prefer. At birth, my father, upon finding out that I was not only a girl, but their fifth girl, decided he wanted to name me Helen-after my mother. My mother, on the other hand, did not want a Helen "Jr." in the house, so somehow they backed peddled into the name Ellen and here I am.

Growing up I was known around the house and among close relatives as Ellie. I've been told that it was my father who again named me, nicknamed me, Ellie. In more official, social situations I was only known as Ellen. Funny how not even my friends called me Ellie. It was only in my home.

My father. Where do I begin? Simply...a man I was terrified of. Even to this day, now I haven't seen him in six years, but as up to the last days my eyes saw his, yes, I was terrified of him. So, when in his nicer moments to be lovingly called "Ellie!" It meant a great deal to me.

I've thought about it again and again, "Why should the name Ellie mean so much to me when given to me by someone who has brought so much pain into my life? Strange. You would think I would hate the name. But no, I love it. The name "Ellen" sounds so serious. So, "You're in trouble, Ellen!"  But how can you possibly be in trouble with the name Ellie? I never was. Anytime he called my nick name out it was with affection and love and I would come running to him.

I know that our father on earth in many ways, sadly, is how we see our Father in heaven. Our Father in heaven, I've come to learn, is nothing like the father I grew up with. My earthly father was quick to fall into rage. My Father in heaven is slow to anger. My father on earth was quick to lash out and punish. My Father in heaven is just and patient, wanting all to  come to salvation.  My father was unkind, unjust, unloving. My Father in heaven -not so.  So why, do I cherish the name Ellie?

Well, I talked about it with my heavenly Father. (My prayer time is just me talking with Him). I believe He told me that in the times where my earthly father was loving, even gentle, those were the times that I had glimpses of Him, my true Father. That my heavenly Father only calls me Ellie. That He delights in me all the time. Even when I sin He has compassion on me-not rage.

So, if you see me and would like to call me Ellie please do so. I would love it. No worries if you continue to call me Ellen-I've come to like that name too. Would you like to know why I don't mind the name Ellen? Would you like yet another story? Okay, here we pulled it out of me. Oh, this is already too long-okay, until next time =D

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"So Don't be Afraid"-(Big Head of Hair...yeah that's me: Part 2)

So, fast forward twenty or so years and you'll find that Matthew 10:30 still means a great deal to me. It was one of those scriptures that every time I read it, it ministered true comfort-even confidence, in me. I could quote it for you--"And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered." now I have to tell you, I have read the book of Matthew upwards of twenty times-I should know the scripture-right? so much so that I should be able to tell you the scripture that comes right after it.  -"You are worth more than many sparrows."  I loved this verse too because it would always take me back to Matthew 6:25-34. How God cares for the birds of the air and the Lillie's of the field-and if He cares for them-how much more He cares for us.

Ao here I am reading the book of Matthew again and going over this verse during a time that God is doing a work in me in the area of fear. And guess what...the verses read, "And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."  "So don't be afraid."  There it is again. It was so amazing to me that, for some reason, I didn't remember that verse. I guess I was in a place of not being able to even read, hear, or see that. my brain or heart couldn't grasp-NOT being afraid-so I guess I just didn't see it.

Now that I am reading the book of Matthew -in a time where God is revealing so much to me- I am seeing His words of "don't be afraid" every where. Matthew 6:25-34, 8:26, 10:26, 10:28, 10:30, 14:27, 17:7, and so far, that's as far as I've gotten.  Jesus is calling me, us, to not be afraid. i never realized before this year just how many things i have been afraid of. i thought i was pretty faithful-("ye of little faith") thought i was pretty bold-i felt i stood up for myself and stated my opinions clearly-(nice try ;)

true story: years ago, while living in new york with hubby, we wanted to buy a co-op. (a co-op is kinda like owning a condo, only different-yes, I'm very helpful). our friend was a real estate agent and she found one for us. it was a great deal-the people had been looking to sell for a long time-we wanted it-it was a perfect situation. well one day we really wanted to see the co-op again, but we weren't allowed-there's some rule/law that doesn't allow us to go into the home without the owners permission. but seeing as the real estate agent was our friend-she gave us the key(!)

anyway, when we got into the apartment (the people had already moved out) we saw what a mess it was. we thought well, we'll clean it up. we were there for hours going through their stuff- putting stuff in garbage bags- making piles of stuff they probably would want and stuff we'd like to have -if they never came back for it, etc. we locked up the place and left. needless to say, when we got home there was a message from our friend the real-estate lady. she was all upset with us because the people downstairs called the owners of the said co-op. our friend reminded us that it was against the rules for us to have been in there, and what were we doing, we'll probably loose the apt over this...yada,yada, yada. i was filled with such fear. fear of getting in trouble. fear of loosing the apt. fear of having to find another place and not finding another place. fear of -gosh, so much regret.

well, for the next few weeks all i could do was talk about it- but talk about it in complete fear. do you know what i mean? every waking thought i had a pit in my stomache just waiting for the bomb to drop. i was begging everyone i knew to pray that it would all work out. (they were not prayers of faith). i cried over our sin of taking the key and disregarding the rules. i was a mess for weeks. as it turns out- we got the apt., no punishment came on us and not only that the owners actually thanked us for cleaning up the place-they said it made moving so much easier for them!

after that -once settled in the apt.- i confessed my sin of fear and anxiety. i couldn't believe how i had spent weeks worrying-and all that time -God knew. He knew it was all going to work out. I vowed to the Lord that day that i would never again worry like that. that the next time i mess up and potentially ruin a good thing or just worry - i would trust Him.  i've done okay...but God is pushing me to do much better.

it's funny how "not being afraid" is a decision we make. i've chosen so many times not to be afraid when it would be "natural" to do so.  and then there have been so many times where i just got swept away with fear. it's gotta change.  i've got to change.

Lord, i confess, once again, my fear. my fear of change. fear of confrontation. fear of letting others down- you know the list. fill me with your perfect love that drives out all fear. help me to trust you more deeply in every area of my life. help me to live in peace. help me to "sleep" during the big and little storms. love you so very much. your ellie.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Big Head of Hair...Yeah, That's Me. (Part 1)

I grew up with unmanageable, Italian, thick, curly hair and for some reason or other I had not a haircut from the third grade to the eighth grad. Needless to say, my hair grew long and wild. By eighth grade I was at a complete loss with how to handle this mass growing out of my head. I was getting older and wanted to fit in more in a fashionable sense and to top it off, my sister was getting married. She had asked me to be one of her bride's maids-I knew something had to be done. So, by myself, off to the hair salon I went.

I will never forget the looks I received when I walked in. They were aghast. Horrified. Confused. Even a look of, "Oh, no, please don't let her come to me."  They sent me straight to the back and washed "it." Then sat me down in a chair.

The hair stylist just stood there looking in the mirror at my hair. A look of, "Oh well, that didn't help."  Now I had long, dripping, crazy hair.  The stylist looked at another for help. Now I had two looking at me. They called over the manager. She had nothing. They finally asked, "What can we do for you?"  I simply said, "I'd like a hair cut please."

We talked for awhile about all the things that they couldn't do for me and why. They finally came up with a plan. The plan was, drum role it all off. They explained that shaving it down to nothing would be the best thing for me. It would be clean, manageable, stylish. I trusted them. An hour later I walked out without much hair at all.

Of course it was a horrible mistake and those of you reading this who remember will concur and then laugh. But such was my life. A life of hair issues. Long or short it was a problem. Then and now every time, pregnant or not, my hair falls out by the handfuls in the shower. And yet I come out of the shower, style it and it seems as if I have not lost one single hair. I seem to have a system in place that produces more hair than my head can hold. Growing up with hair like mine I was very self conscience. Then, I met Jesus.

I read, "And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered."
Can you imagine?
Every hair on MY head is numbered? Well, that's how I felt. The very thing that plagued me, and plagued hair stylist, was so adored by Jesus that He knew and knows how many hairs are on my head. Every time a hair or ten falls out He knows the new number. He watches over us, so concerned over the very things in our lives, so involved that He proves it by knowing a number, a number that no one else could possibly know or care about, the number of hairs on our head. that is one intimate God.

God died for us so that we could be in relationship with Him. I remember when I was a new Christian only a few chapters into the book of Matthew and stopping. I sat there and read Matthew 10:30 over and over again. My God loves me. My God really wants to know me. I bet He knows how many freckles, and how many beauty marks as well. I bet He knows when they first popped up on our skin and our reaction to them. I bet He knows how many scars on my skin too. I bet He also knows the when, why, how and the whole story behind each scar. If God so cares for these little details on our body, that we may not care too much about, how much more does He care about the things we DO care about? How much more does He want us to open up to Him and share all the things boxed up in our hearts? Our God cares. He really cares.

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Why Are You So Afraid?"

I started reading the book of Matthew a few weeks ago, when I came across this quote from Jesus,
"Why are you so afraid?"
It was amazing to me because I had been dealing with fear and then there it was straight from Jesus:
"Why are you so afraid?" 
Such a simple question. Jesus asks not because He doesn't know WHY,but rather a WHAT are you so afraid of when I'M with you."

I've taken this quote from Matthew 8:26. It is the story, "Jesus Calms the Storm."  It says, "Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat."  I don't know about you, but I certainly would have been afraid.  It came all of a sudden, out of no where and the waves were sweeping over the boat. That is truly something to be afraid of.  They didn't have time to think. The tragedy was upon them and their natural instinct was to be afraid.

What was Jesus doing?
Jesus was so at peace that He could sleep.  Jesus wasn't afraid. He wasn't anxious. He wasn't stressing out. He knew that God the Father was in control. He knew that the Holy Spirit was watching over them. He knew that Satan had no power over them. He knew that HE himself could handle the situation. Jesus was calm. Jesus had faith.

So, He asks his disciples, "Why are you so afraid?" In other words, don't you know you have nothing to be afraid of? Don't you know that I will protect you? Don't you know that I won't let anything happen to you? Don't you know that you are safe with me?

Then He says something that I would hate to hear, "You of little faith."  Golly, if the disciples were considered  nearly faithless when a huge storm hit and their very lives were in danger, well then, I must have close to no faith with the silly things I have feared. 

It is amazing that Jesus sees a huge storm as nothing to fear! So it could be said that there is nothing to be afraid of ever! I seriously mean nothing. Fear nothing. Don't fear dying. Don't fear something so huge that could knock you off your feet.  Jesus wants us to be completely trusting Him in all things. The "storms" of life may have happened, may still come, but we are not to be afraid. We are to have faith. We are to believe that God is completely in control. That God knows a way out. That we are not forgotten by Him. That He is aware of all we are going through and He does have a plan.

"Then  he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" (Matthew 8:26b-27)

Since Jesus can rebuke the winds and the waves, isn't it plausible that He could save us from everything?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Change...It's a Good Thing.

I don't know if I am one or not, but I am going to try harder to be a better friend.

What is a friend?...Well, I think it's someone who really stands by you. Is really there for you-I guess the way you would think family would be. I see "friends" in the movies-they have b.b.q's together, hang out, go on vacations together etc. I want all that too. I guess it's gotta be my fault that I don't have that kind of friendships in my life.

I have in my mind that before I invite friends over that the house has to be perfectly cleaned (which I can't seem to attain anymore), food delicious and plenty of it, (which I can't really afford right now), and a perfect looking backyard, (which requires waaay to much work). I guess as much as I want the closeness of friends I have that many more excuses NOT to have it. It's so sad.

I have been really busy too. Pregnancy made me really tired. Having had the baby I was always tired. And running several ministries made me just too busy to do much of anything else. so two years ago, I had Daniel and was pregnant with Joyelle, I was the nursery coordinator, teaching Kingdom Kids, (Sunday School class ages 5-11) and running the church VBS for the first time. After having the baby I let go of the Kingdom Kids responsibility, but was caring for my infant and five other children, and also ran the VBS. It's been a really busy two years. Well, I'm not pregnant, I don't have a new born and I'm down to one ministry. Now that I am down to one ministry I think I will have more time on my hands to daily get my house clean and keep it clean and work on the backyard.

Now for the other reason I've not had the friends I've always wished for-I've been too afraid. deep down I've been afraid to get tooo close. To really allow people in my life. I think it's so sad that I have so much love in my heart, so much I want to give, so much that I want to give away, but I've been to trapped into thinking that I'm not good enough to be a person's good friend. Not good enough for anyone to want to be my friend.  I think I'm over that now. I guess I'm entering into a new season. The season where mom is really at home, cooking, cleaning, with an open door for friends to stop by and hang out.  I'm looking forward to it.

Don't get me wrong, I have great friends-I just want - - deeper. deeper friendships. I want to be open in my person, in my home- more transparent in every way.

Friday, September 2, 2011

How Do We Get Resurrection Power?

The resurrection- it's not just for the "lost" to be set free. It's bigger. It's even, dare I say in some situations, more powerful than that. The resurrection never quits. It does not have a "use once only" label with it. It also does not have an expiration date. As powerful as the resurrection is- taking a person who was living in sin, never heard the name Jesus, and bound for despair and turning that life completely around -it could still do more.

When the Lord was beginning to reveal to me fear in my heart I felt a little rumble in my spirit. Something like the beginning of an earthquake. I didn't like it, but I was curious. I thought on the fear a little more. The rumbling shook me. That scared me. I knew that if I allowed, (And the word "allowed" is key here), God expose the inner workings of my heart I could be in for a full on earthquake!

I wanted to run and hide. I wanted to close up the box that He was trying to open and bury it again. I wanted to pretend with God that that fear didn't exist and go on with life as before. I was ashamed that it was even in there.
 I had a choice to make:
- be fake or real.
- hide or expose.
- bondage or freedom.
 HUGE decision for me. In absolute fear I chose for God to go deeper.

Have you ever seen the show, "Get Smart?" The part where he is trying to get into head quarters?  He goes into a telephone booth, and goes down. Then doors open and shut behind him. He walks down a long corridor and more doors shut. Well, the journey with God to my heart was like that, but with no doors closing behind me. I was completely open for Him to go deep into my heart and everything stayed open. I don't remember a time in my life where ever felt so exposed. So vulnerable.

His touch was so gentle. As things came up, I confessed my sin. Sin of unforgiveness. Sin of fear. The more He exposed, the more I confessed. humility is pretty important. I didn't argue. I didn't try to explain it away.  I just sat and let these ugly feelings come up and took full responsibility for it.  In confession, there is freedom. In humility there is freedom.

We can be "saved" and live a life really not knowing Jesus. Live a life with fears, sin, rejection, shame, anger, tied up in little boxes and stored in our hearts. We have another choice after salvation. A choice of freedom. Am I saying it's easy? Absolutely not. The deeper we have buried things the harder it is to uproot. And I'll even say, the longer it's been down there-gosh, that makes it harder too.

BUT freedom.
BUT Jesus.

To know HIM more- it makes it all worth it. That may sound cliche-"It's all worth it," but think about it- do we really want to be here on this earth living another day the same as we have always been? Another day being offended by the same words spoken by insensitive people, living in fear, feeling hopeless? In my heart of hearts I wanted change-afraid to get it, but wanted it.

I said before that I want to do big things for God. How can I when I have years of "issues" holding me and weighing me back? It was clear-I needed to face the ugly fear in my heart and what better tour guide then Jesus. He is so gentle. so patient. so compassionate. So loving. HE is soooo amazing. allowing the resurrection power to come into a deep and dark place in my heart was - I have no words-other than -freedom.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." (Matthew 16: 24-25)