Sunday, December 28, 2014

Do You Hear What I Hear...

What I love most about my walk with Christ is that each and every day I have the opportunity to examine my faith - through prayer, scripture, Christian studies or Christ-filled friends, God reveals ways of new growth and brighter paths. It is important for me on my faith journey to reflect - where would I be if I didn't have Christ's presence in my life? God knows that many times I have called out the name of Jesus in times of darkness and confusion but also in times of joy and thanksgiving. It is also important for me to share my journey with others - to "be God's light" that shines through me for others to witness. It seems fitting, this last week of 2014, to share where my faith has taken me this past year, particularly a testimony of listening for and hearing God's voice...

Over the past year my faith walk has been a walk of patience, forgiveness and gratitude. I have shared in a previous post the journey that my husband and I, along with my ex-husband and his wife, traveled with our oldest son, Hayden. A path of poor choices, difficult decisions, confusion. A path that has found the road to healing, grace, mercy and trust. I have also experienced forgiveness in a healed relationship with my father. I have come to understand, through prayer, the things I could not see - truly a forgiveness that can only come from God. I have been extremely blessed by new and growing friendships, employment opportunities, women's conferences and church family and my heart overflows with gratitude.

But perhaps the greatest area of growth for me this past year was the desire to seek God's voice, listen for God's voice and to hear God's voice. It is no secret that I am one to make decisions based on what I want, how I feel and how I can gain. I desire instant gratification - so when I excepted a new position with The Food Bank of Central Missouri back in May, I knew immediately I was exactly where I needed to be. I did pray about the position before accepting - and I honestly felt God's approval. Working for a non-profit organization whose mission is to feed the hungry - I was humbled to be a part of such an amazing task. To physically stand in front of people who didn't know where their next meal would come from and to hand them food to fill their pantry - well, it filled that "instant gratification" desire. I didn't need to "wait" to see the fruits of my labor - it unfolded before my very eyes.

So it comes as no surprise when I share with you that eight weeks ago, when approached by a friend about a new position within his ministry at the Missouri Baptist Foundation, my faith was being tested once again. Our first conversation left me thinking of possible friends I may have that would fit the role of this new title - I certainly didn't think I might be interested - I was still "new" at The Food Bank and I loved my job. But then my thoughts changed as I learned more about this ministry. The more I talked with my friend, the more my heart began to whisper to me: pray. I am certain I first "heard" God when my friend shared with me that he would like me to fill this position, but wanted me to really pray about it - and he would be in prayer too. I immediately went to my husband and shared this offer with him and we agreed to both be in prayer.

Now, you should know, I am a "specifics" sort of gal. I need to see and hear God through specific events, people, scripture, etc. I share that with you because this is how I pray - I ask God to "specifically" show me. So my prayer was exactly that: "Father God, I need you to show me three times where you want me to be. God, should I stay with The Food Bank? Should I take this offer with the Foundation? Show me the way, God." I was looking for "clues," so to speak - and I patiently waited.

Certainly nothing happened overnight {the way I preferred} and I must admit that at times I was growing weary - impatient. Many times my husband needed to scold me - revealing to me that I was, again, thinking in the flesh and not by the spirit. However, over the next few weeks, God did, indeed, uncover three things that led me to believe that He was pointing me towards the Foundation job.

And sadly, friends, I have to admit that I STILL was uneasy. I loved my job at The Food Bank - did God really want me to give up this passion? I needed one more "sign," if you will. It was a Saturday afternoon. My husband and I were sitting on the couch and I confided in my husband that I was leaning towards the Foundation job but I was still restless over the decision. My husband asked what the restlessness was about and I shared with him that I simply didn't have the heart to tell my current boss at The Food Bank that I was going to leave my position and take up a new job with the Missouri Baptist Foundation. I had only worked for The Food Bank for a mere eight months - I adored my boss and I didn't have the heart to face him. My husband responded with, "Let's go to God with this." Of course! - So we did, in that very moment..."Father God, I hear you. I see with my heart that you are pointing me towards the Foundation. But God, you know my struggle. I don't have the heart to tell my current boss that I am leaving. So God - I need you to take this struggle. If I truly belong at the Foundation, I need the strength and the confidence to tell my current boss - I need you to take care of this for me."

This is where I relish in sharing my testimony with you - this is the part I love - when I want to climb to the rooftops and yell for all of creation to hear - "GOD HEARS OUR PRAYERS! GOD ANSWERS OUR PRAYERS!" I also want to be sure to share with you that God doesn't always answer prayer so quickly - but in my case, in this moment, He did.

The following Monday afternoon, my boss at The Food Bank called my cell phone. When I answered he shared with me that he was resigning from his position at The Food Bank to begin a career with The Missouri Baptist Home and would be leaving at the end of December. ....My jaw hit the floor. It was in that very moment that I heard God's voice. I knew where God wanted me to be and the future He has planned for me. It is with extreme thankfulness and excitement that I announce I have accepted a position as Vice President of Marketing and Client Relations with the Missouri Baptist Foundation.

This was a test of my faith - a test of patience, prayer and truly listening and hearing. A test of obedience. And I am confident in saying I passed. And I reflect, once again - where would I be without God's presence in my life? God will always be my guide - whether the journey is difficult or easy - God is always with me. God refreshes me through His Word, prayer, friendships and His presence.


Thursday, November 6, 2014


Any parent who has watched a child depart from the ways of God to follow the path of addictions knows what heartbreak it brings to a family. A little over a year ago when faced with the ultimatum of "home" or "drugs," our oldest son chose the latter. The ache I felt for my first born child - the sleepless nights, the confusion, the anger - oh, the ANGER - I was consumed. I wrestled with God many, many nights. I begged and I bargained. 
More times than not, we didn't know where our son was. Countless times I wondered if he was even alive. When it rained and thundered I felt like God was mocking me - knowing that I felt a storm inside my own heart. I shook my fists and I cried out - "I cannot do this anymore." 
Looking back, I see that this wasn't just about my son, Hayden - this was about me too. This was about surrendering completely to God. Trusting God. Praying for His will, not mine. 
The turning point for me was in the form of a prayer -yes, I had been praying all along, but the difference between my prayers before and this particular prayer was in one simple statement: "Lord, I give Hayden to you." "Simple" isn't the best word to use, because those words were the hardest words I had ever released from my mouth. But they were also the most freeing. You see, this particular evening I nestled into the silence around me. I closed my eyes and I  created a vision of the Cross. I imagined myself 
walking hand-in-hand with my son towards the Cross. A sense of peace begin to absorb me. As we came to the foot of the Cross we stopped, and I let go of Hayden's hand, placing him at the foot of the Cross and I whispered out loud, "Lord, I give Hayden to you." From that moment on, every single day, I prayed that same prayer, replaying that same vision in my mind. It wasn't a one time prayer, nor was it a one time vision. It was a necessity to get me through the days, the weeks, the months ahead. I can honestly say that eventually I had the confidence and the peace to know that God had a plan - and God works all things for the good. I also was at peace with knowing sometimes God's plan is not our plan...not MY plan. God's plan might include taking Hayden from this Earth – and I was in a place in my walk where although that would be terribly heartbreaking for me, I would trust God. So I waited. I continued to pray, faithfully, every day. But I was patient. Yes, I still worried from time to time – I am a mother, after all.
About two months ago Hayden returned home. He made a decision to turn himself over and to begin changing his choices, his lifestyle. I knew we had a long road ahead of us, it wasn't something that would happen overnight, but I was relieved and grateful.
But I was also right back to the beginning – wanting things my way. Praying to God, actually telling Him what to do, "Father God, please let 'this' happen - make 'this' happen - do 'this'." I've been praying that way since Hayden's return - and I was curious as to why I felt like I had lost my peace. 
On Monday evening, in my quiet time, I began to pray. Tuesday morning Hayden would face a judge and learn the consequences for the countless mistakes he had made over the past year. My prayer began like this, "Father God, please make the judge tell Hayden he has to enter into an inpatient drug rehabilitation. It's the only way he will be able to conquer this addiction. Please make the judge see through Hayden and the help that he really needs. ...blah, blah, do 'this,' do 'that' blah blah..." I stopped. I sat in the stillness and I realized what I was doing. Again, I was wanting to control the situation. Control has always been my downfall – I like to be in control, and the irony is I have never been in control! I changed my words, "Father God, I pray for YOUR will in this situation. I pray that YOU will do what ever will allow Hayden to strengthen his walk with you. I know that you work all things for the good, and you will not forsake me nor will you forsake Hayden. I trust you completely."

The judges decision was to allow a second chance to Hayden. Hayden has until January 4th to enroll in an outpatient drug rehabilitation program and to complete the program within six months. If Hayden can return to court at the end of his rehabilitation and prove he completed the program, the judge will completely wipe his record clean.

As I sit here and type out our testimony, I have tears - read the judgment you see it? Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness. 

I think of my own baptism just five years ago – when Pastor Mark held me under the water and I came out of the water a new person in Christ. I had put my old self to death, I had been given the ultimate gifts of grace, mercy and forgiveness. I fall every single day on my faith journey, and yet Christ grants me those same gifts each and every day. Hayden's judgment is an amazing example of who and what Christ is to us. Hayden's journey is a part of his testimony – and also to mine. A lesson of surrendering completely to a God that loves us unconditionally. A God that works all things for the good. A God that fills us with joy, peace and hope. 

A God who wants ALL of us, completely - to trust in Him and to "Be still and know that He is God." Psalm 46:10