Posts Tagged ‘trust’

Photo Credit: limowreck666 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: limowreck666 via Compfight cc

Have you ever been mad at God – I mean really mad at Him? Have you ever had something happen that made you question why God would allow it? I know I have. I mentioned a few days ago that I was mad at God. See, things haven’t really been going the way I’d have liked them too lately. I have several situations come up where things just went a whole different direction than I expected. I might have mentioned a few times before that when things go opposite of what I expect, I tend to get upset. Well, in this case, several different things didn’t go my way, and I’ve been struggling with being mad at God. After all, He is all powerful, so He could stop those things from happening.

Over the course of the past couple of weeks, I have been spending time in God’s Word in the hopes that I would somehow figure it all out. The reality is, I may never know why things don’t go as I expect them to. Does that mean I should give up and throw in the towel and walk away? I don’t think so. In fact, I have been blessed because I have made the choice to stick with God.

This morning I was reading Numbers 11, and a verse popped out at me and hit me right between the eyes. I couldn’t avoid it because it was like God was talking directly to me. In this chapter, the people are complaining about the manna being the only food they were eating. They wanted some meat. Now, God was feeding them this great food that came directly from Him, and they were going to complain? (Sound familiar?) So, anyway, Moses goes and complains to God about how much the people are complaining and said he couldn’t handle all those people by himself. So, God told Moses to gather 70 elders and He was going to put His spirit on them so they could help Moses. Then He told Moses He was going to provide meat for the children of Israel, and that they would get meat for not just one day but for a whole month until they were sick of it. Be careful what you wish for right?

So, Moses, being a lot like me I think, asked God, “I have 600,000 people with me, and you say you’re going to give them meat for entire month. Should we go kill our flocks and herds so that we’ll have enough? Or should we get all the fish from the sea?” Obviously Moses was a bit skeptical about the whole thing. I’ve been there. And then comes the verse that smacked me right between the eyes. In verse 23 God says, “Is the LORD’s power limited? Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not” (NASB). God says, let’s just see if I can do what I say I can do.

I often find myself wondering how things are going to work out. I question God’s judgment and wonder how a certain situation can ever be made better. The reality is, it’s not my job to worry about that. God is in charge. When God is in charge, I have nothing to worry about. Things may not go the way I anticipate, but I have to ask myself, “Is God big enough to handle that? Do I really believe He can?” And the reality is, there is nothing in my life that God cannot (and has not) handle when I stepped out of His way and stopped fighting. I am learning that I don’t have to understand the reasons why things happen. I need to spend more time watching God work. And He always works.

Your turn, have you had situations where you felt like God was giving you more than you could handle? What do you do in those situations? Do you, like me, whine and complain? Or do you trust that God knows what He’s doing and let Him work? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Photos by Mavis via Compfight cc

In this life there are always going to be problems. After all, as I have been reminded of time and time again, we live in a broken world full of broken people. And broken people hurt each other – sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident. The bottom line is, everyone gets hurt at some point. And I’d venture to guess if someone insists they have never been hurt, they were probably either the ones inflicting the pain, or they are lying to themselves. I suppose there could be the rare case that it’s actually true, but if it is, then it truly is a rare case indeed. It would be nice to be able to say that the cause of all my problems rests squarely on the shoulders of others, but unfortunately for me, often I am the cause of my own problems.

So, if I am the problem, what can I do to fix it? And shouldn’t that make things easier to fix? I mean, the only person I can really do anything about is myself, right? Alas, it’s not that simple. It’s actually easier to see the problems in someone else’s life because I’m not part of that life, and it has no bearing on me. I’m a neutral party. But the reality is, it’s not my job to see everyone else’s problems. It’s my job to work on me. So, how what does that mean for me?

First things first. Before I can begin to fix a problem in me, I have to actually know that there is a problem. My experience has been that I don’t really see my own problems. I’m too close to the issue. That’s where friends come in and help. I am blessed to have at least 2-3 good friends who are willing to point out to me when I have a flaw in my thinking or if I am overstepping my bounds. I trust these friends with pretty much every aspect of my life – which is saying something because I don’t really trust people easily. But because I trust these friends, I know that if they are taking the time to tell me I have an issue, I listen. I don’t like it. But I listen. I might get angry at first. But I listen. I listen because I don’t want to be one of those people who refuses to see the issues in my life and stay in the same unhealthy patterns. But what do I do once I have seen or someone has pointed out to me that there is a problem?

I think there are three things I need to do in this situation. After all, God gave me a brain, and He gives me the tools necessary to learn and grow.

1) I need to review what has been pointed out to me or what I suspect, to determine the truth in the situation. Sometimes a perceived problem, isn’t truly a problem. But often it is. So, first, I need to examine the facts. Who is telling me I have an issue? Is it someone I trust or someone I just happen to know? Is it someone who tends to find problems in everyone or someone who usually thinks well of people? Am I just feeling insecure, or do I have facts that back up my suspicions? This could mean that I need to ask for honest feedback. It definitely means I need to get into God’s Word to see what He says. The main point here is that I need to be willing to take an honest look at what has either been pointed out to me, or I have a suspicion about.

2) Once I have determined that there is actually an issue, I need to be willing to admit that there is a problem. Admitting the problem means that I recognize the issue, and now I want to do something about it. I don’t want to be one of those people who says “Oh yes, I have a problem, but that’s just who I am.” That’s not a healthy outlook. If I have a true issue, then it is something that can be remedied and worked on. Yes, I have a personality, and that personality makes me who I am, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But if I allow myself to be ruled by my personality, then I am not looking out for the best interests of others. And as a child of God, I am called to care about other people. Philippians 2:1-4 says:

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (NASB).

I don’t have the luxury of thinking only of myself. I have a responsibility to look out for the interests of others. So, if I have an issue, I need to admit to the issue. It doesn’t mean an overnight change necessarily, but it does mean I need to admit there is a problem.

3) Finally, I need to address the issue. I need to take steps to improve in that area. Sometimes that’s difficult to do because perhaps the action or thought has been so deeply ingrained that it takes a long time to make the change. Making the change quickly isn’t required. Committing to making the change and then acting on that commitment is. Some things I can do to help me with that is to ask someone to help hold me accountable. Knowing someone is going to be asking me about my progress means I am more likely to take action. Another thing I can do is get into God’s Word and see what He says about that issue, and also memorize Scriptures that can help me stick to my commitment. I can also keep a journal to track my progress.

I do need to remember, though, that making progress isn’t necessarily overnight. I am going to have times when I fail. At those times, I need to remember that this is a process, and instead of giving up, I need to get up and keep moving forward. My experience has been, when I have actually done this, I have walked away feeling better about myself and have been better able to help others in the process. And really, isn’t that what I’m here for – to help others?

What about you? Do you have other ideas for how to make changes in your life? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit:  By Martin Wessely  (Unsplash.com)

Photo Credit: By Martin Wessely (Unsplash.com)

I am not one to try a lot of new things. I prefer to stick with the things I know and like, rather than try something that I might not like. However, lately, it’s been getting to the point where I am tired of the same old thing. I feel like I am trapped in a room, looking out at the world and seeing everything I wish I had the guts to do pass me by. A lot of that has to do with the fear of trying something new and not liking it or maybe even failing at it. I think for me, failure is the biggest fear I have. I think somehow, deep inside, I think it means that somehow I am lacking – that somehow I’m not good enough.

Much of my fear has to do with the fact that I have done so many stupid things in my past. I have a litany of events in my life that would illustrate the extent of how stupid I can really be. And for the past few years, I think I’ve done all I can to distance myself from that failure and make myself out to be this person who seldom messes up. It’s all about the image because if anyone saw who I really had been, they would perhaps not like me quite so much. Forget the fact that my past has taught me so many things. To let others see me as I really am might mean rejection. And I have faced enough of that in my life – at least that’s what I tell myself.

The reality is, my past is my past. I can’t change it, but I can look back on it and see how far I have come. Or rather, I can look back and see how far God has brought me. He took a scared, stupid, insecure little girl and He has grown me into someone who, while still scared, and still able to do stupid things, and often insecure, is also learning to be courageous and strong and to depend on Him. As a result, recently I have started to do things I never really expected I’d be able to do. For example, I went back to New York, where my roots are a few weeks ago. To say that was a step out of my comfort zone is an understatement. I was terrified. But I did it. That’s just one example, but I have others that I can point to. Except, that’s not the point today.

When I refuse to step out and take a risk – whether it be failure, rejection or something else unpleasant – I do myself a disservice. I put myself in a cage. I lock myself up into a tiny little box and instead of growing, I shrink. I go deep into myself and I lock everyone else out. And that’s a lonely life.

Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it (perfection) yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (NASB). Paul had a lot to be ashamed of in his past. After all, he persecuted, imprisoned and caused the death of many followers of Christ before he went through is own conversion experience. He could have chosen to hate himself, belittle himself, or lock himself away from other believers. Instead, he chose to do the opposite and as a result started many different churches, not to mention the prevalence of his letters being included in the New Testament.

Paul went on to say in verses 15-16, “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect (or mature), have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” (NASB). In other words, live up to who you are. I am a child of God. As a result that means I am sanctified, redeemed, and can rest in God. I don’t have to keep looking back in shame at my past. I can use it as a learning experience, but my life isn’t in the past. I am to be embracing what God has for me in the future, and that is that I am going to get to be with Him someday. And if that’s the case, then what do I have to be afraid of here? What am I avoiding?

With that in mind, I have a few “bucket list” items I am planning on this year, such as kayaking, driving to New York with my kids this summer, taking a chance and entering a couple of writing contests this year, and so much more. And I can do those things because I am free. Yes, I might fail. Yes, things can go wrong. Yes, I can get hurt and it’s going to be a risk. But, in the end, I am going to grow and learn, and most of all, I am going to escape from that cage I have locked myself into.

What about you? Have you locked yourself in a cage too? Are you avoiding certain things out of fear of failure or rejection? What do you do to get past those feelings and live the life God has called you to?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: Mundoo via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Mundoo via Compfight cc

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost an entire week since I left New York. How time flies when you’re busy, right? Anyway, I had intended to keep up with my blog while I was there, but got a little busy after the first couple of days. In fact, I did more driving in that week and a half I was in New York than I do in six months (no joke). It was a lot of fun, and when it came time to leave, I found it quite difficult.

While I was there, I went to visit one of my brothers and his family. I decided that I was going to stop off at my uncle’s house to see my grandmother on the way there. So, I got the address, and general directions, but I figured I’d be fine. After all, I had my phone, which I use for GPS all the time. There was one small problem with that plan – when I hit the little town of Pitcher, the signal on my phone was gone. And I don’t mean it was just slow or spotty. It was completely gone. I freaked out just a little because I had no idea how much I relied on my phone until I didn’t have it to rely on any longer. I pulled over, and tried to get it to work, but to no avail. So, I started driving in what I was assuming was the correct direction, thinking if I could just go a little further, I might get my signal back. In the meantime, I had someone behind me, who was probably getting quite irritated at the crazy lady driver in front of him. So, thinking I’d get out of his way, I pulled into the drive of a church – all the way up to the grassy parking lot.

Now, if you know anything about New York in March, you probably know that it can be cold or warm, snowy or sunny, or any combination of weather. On that day, it happened to be warm and sunny. And when it gets warm, a grassy parking lot is not exactly the best place to stop. See, I, in my infinite wisdom (or lack thereof), stopped on that grassy lot, and tried to figure out how to get a signal on my phone. Within a few moments, I realized it wasn’t going to happen, so I tried to leave. To my horror, the car didn’t want to leave. It was stuck in the mud. I tried for probably a good 20 minutes to get out of that parking lot on my own – making things worse with each passing moment. Finally realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to do anything about the car on my own, I decided that I was going to try to find someone home. So, I knocked on the door of someone across the street. She was quite friendly and gave me some ideas – which probably would have worked for someone other than me. In the end, she and two other people came over to help me get out of the mud. My car and sneakers were covered in mud. The situation seems quite funny now, but at the time, I was frustrated and annoyed and ready to just throw in the towel.

See, while I was trying to get out of that mess on my own, I was praying. I was asking God to get me out of the mess I had gotten myself into. In fact, at one point, I believe I even asked Him why He’d allowed me to get stuck in the first place – as if I hadn’t made any decisions on my own. I had been so focused on relying on my phone, that I forgot to rely on the only one who is able to be relied on at all times. Now, I believe God sent those people over to help me. I truly do because I don’t even know where two of them came from. I only talked to the one lady, but three people came over to help me. And in true small-town fashion, we stood around talking and laughing at the situation afterward. But the moment that could have ended in more frustration didn’t end that way. It ended with me feeling blessed by three people whose names I don’t even know.

I believe God was answering my prayer before I even thought to pray it. I believe He orchestrated events to allow me to learn something. This is what I learned that day. I need to stop relying on myself and everyone else so much. I need to rely more on God. I worry too much about what is going to happen and forget to rely on God. I am so busy trying to control everything that I forget that I don’t really control anything. I whine and complain about the bad stuff instead of remembering Romans 8:28 that tells me that God “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (NASB). I forget that He can use even being stuck in the mud to bring about something good in my life.

In the end, I made the rest of the trip to see my grandmother and my brother and his family with no further issues. But I walked away with a lesson that I hope never to forget. Even when I feel stuck in the mud, God is there, and He is working things out for my good. I don’t have to stress and whine and complain. I can rest in His promise that He is there with me, through everything. And HE is in control.

What about you? Have you had times when you felt like you were “stuck in the mud?” What do you do in those instances? Do you try to control more or do you let it go and trust it will work out?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

 

Photo Credit: Elisabetta Foco

Photo Credit: Elisabetta Foco

I don’t know why, but it always surprises me when people let me down. You’d think that after a while, it would be “old hat,” but the reality is, it always catches me off guard. It’s like I get into this illusion that certain people will never let me down, so when they do, it almost devastates me. I get frustrated with myself over this because the reality is, there is never going to be a person, not one single human person, who is going to never let me down. I’m sure I’ve let my share of people down. In fact, I know I have. You just have to ask my children, and I’m sure they will be happy to spell out the times I’ve let them down.

Yesterday, a friend of mine said something to me that hurt. The biggest reason it hurt was because the statement wasn’t entirely truthful. I don’t think my friend said it to be hurtful, nor do I believe my friend was trying to be malicious. It had been a frustrating day, and I hadn’t made it any easier with my insecurities and worries. So, I feel kind of bad that I am still hurting, and yes, even a little angry over the statement that was made. If there is one thing that hurts me most it’s feeling like I’m getting the blame for something I have no control over or for the actions of others. And that’s how I felt about what was said. But in all honesty, I can’t say that the entire statement wasn’t truthful – just part of it wasn’t.

See, I have these insecurities inside of me that I have been trying so hard to get past. Sometimes I feel like I’ve made great strides in doing so, and then other times, they come back full force and haunt me until I do or say something that I never intended to do or say. It’s like I sabotage all my closest relationships because to let anyone too close is to allow them to hurt me. But I can’t live life like that. I can no longer live in a vacuum of friends because I am too afraid of getting hurt.

I was thinking about that this morning, and I realized something. Not all hurt is a bad thing. “What?” you might ask. That’s right, not all hurt is a bad thing. Here’s why I say that. Yes, what my friend said to me hurt my feelings. I could sit here and dwell on the part that wasn’t true and stew, mutter, and grumble about it. But what does that do for me? Absolutely nothing except to feed my insecurities. My other option is to consider the part of the statement that was truthful – the part I can actually do something about. That does serve a purpose. It can be a catalyst for change.

If I look at all hurt as bad, then I never learn to grow. I stay stuck in my harmful and discouraging behavior – I stay alone. But, if I look at hurt as a change-inducer, then I give myself an opportunity to grow, learn and mature. That seems way more productive to me. I don’t want to stay stuck in the past and dwell on the things that tear me down. I want to dwell on those things that will build me up. In turn, I want to use those things to allow me to help build others up. I want to learn from my past, so I can have a better future. And then, I want to use those things to help bring change to others.

So, even though I am still hurting over what was said, I do see a purpose for it. I do see how it helps me to grow. I do see where it can help me make a change in my own life. And maybe just maybe that will help me let go of the past and move toward my future.

Your turn! Are there things you’re holding onto – insecurities, hurts, anger, etc? Are they building you up or tearing you down? What things do you need to let go of in order to move forward?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo by Paul Jarvis

Photo by Paul Jarvis

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB)

Trust. Five little letters – one BIG word. Trust is not something that comes easily for me. I literally have to force myself to be trusting. I could say that the problem is that people have let me down. It’s true, but that’s not the only problem I have. (I know, you’re probably thinking, “She finally admits it!”) The reality is, most of my problem with trust comes down to wanting to be in control. Control is a big deal for me. I don’t know if it’s because there is so much I have felt like I had no control over, or if I am just a control freak. Maybe it’s a little of both. Whatever the reason, trust is so difficult for me. Yet, I know it’s something that I have to do at times. I mentioned a few days ago that I had chosen to trust a friend, and that it has started to lead to me being willing to be more vulnerable with my other friends. So, if I can trust a friend, why do I have such a hard time trusting God?

Trust goes hand in hand with faith. According to Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (NASB). The question here is not so much about whether I can trust God. It’s more like, am I convinced or convicted of who He is? If I am, then wouldn’t trust come naturally? If I am totally convinced that God will do what He says He will, won’t I live and act as if that were true? Would I not trust Him? The answer seems obvious – just have more faith. But, it’s not that simple, is it? I can’t just “will” myself to have faith. Faith is cultivated by action. At some point, I have to decide if I am going to believe or walk away.

So, what does that look like? For me, that means even though everything in me is screaming at me to run in the opposite direction, I take a step. Just one step in the direction of God. That might mean deciding to take part in a new ministry. Or, perhaps it’s to go somewhere on a missions trip. It’s deciding to take that step forward, not knowing what the result is going to be, but trusting that God will meet me where I am at, and He will not let me fall further than He can reach.

The truth of the matter is, every single time I have chosen to believe that God would do what He said, He has come through for me. From moving to Florida from California, to providing a home for me and my children, to allowing me to wake up and take this next breath. God has never once let me down when I trusted Him fully. So, rather than worry about what tomorrow might bring, I want to bask in the glory of God’s wondrous provision today. I want to step forward and follow Him – I want to trust Him. And in trusting Him, I truly believe He will “make my paths straight.”

What about you? Do you have trouble with trust or does it come easy for you? What do you do that helps you build your faith?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

By Chris Sardegna

By Chris Sardegna

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I like things my way. I make plans all the time, and when things don’t go the way I planned, I get a “little” upset. I’ve gotten somewhat better over the years, as I have come to realize that not everything is going to go my way, but those little frustrations still arise when things don’t go quite right. That’s when I find I have to be careful. My tendency at those times is to whine, complain, explode or any combination of those. And when that happens, I want to just stop what I’m doing and quit. I wish my first response were to take it in stride, but most times, it’s not.

For instance, this morning, as I was running, my app decided to kick me out mid-run. Now, I was having a good run this morning, and it really irked me that my app stopped working. I couldn’t get it to let me back in, and boy was I mad. I had a few choice words to say about my phone and the app at that point, and they weren’t ones I am willing to repeat. I’m not proud of myself for those moments, but those moments do happen. At that point, I almost said, “Forget it! I’m done running today!” Thankfully, I’ve come a long way from where I was a few months ago, so this little setback didn’t stop me from going forward. So, instead of quitting, I just finished my run. I knew when I had started, so I knew when I was supposed to run until, so there was no reason I couldn’t finish. But that one little frustration almost made me throw in the towel.

The truth of the matter is, there are always going to be things I can’t control. My plans are always going to have unexpected things thrown at them, and that’s OK. In fact, Proverbs 16 has a lot to say about man’s plans. I think the one that sticks out to me the most is Proverbs 16:9: “A man’s heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps” (NASB). I can make all the plans I want, but if that’s not where God wants me to be, I’m probably not going to end up there. In some ways that’s a frustration. I mean, I want things to go my way. I make all these plans, and they’re good plans. So, why would God want me to go a different way than what I planned? But on the other hand, it’s also a comfort. I don’t have to worry if things don’t work out the way I planned because God is directing my steps. I need to trust that He knows better than I what is in store for me. He has His own plans and purposes for my life, and as a follower of Him, my job is to follow where He leads. That’s comforting because it means I don’t have to figure it all out on my own. I am never alone on this journey. I always have a Helper who is ready, willing and able to direct my steps.

So, as I go forward on this journey through life, my goal is to become the type of person that takes the unexpected and looks for the opportunity in it. I don’t just want that to be a one time thing. Rather, I want it to become a characteristic of mine, so as I make my plans, I am striving to become flexible, resilient and willing to change direction if necessary.

How about you? How do you handle the little frustrations in life? Are you like me, and like to have things your way? Or are you more open to things going a different way?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature