It has been WAY TO LONG! The funny thing is, over the last couple of months, I have been introduced to people who know me from this blog! I doubt they will be reading now because they probably think that I have abandoned it. I told them I only write when I have a major urge to say something and today I felt that push. I love it that people read but today I needed to write to remind myself of something I fight far too often.
First, I want to add that my family just got back from a trip to California. We had not been back for almost 4years. It was a wonderful visit. We stayed about a week and a half. The first part was with my sister and brother in law and with friends. Oh how I have missed these people. One memory that makes me laugh. An hour after we got to Ashley's house (I am assuming you know Ashley, wink wink) I was laying on the couch with my bestie Wendy. We were talking and I was already getting teary eyed, I said"It is so so good to be with you." She said,"I know." I said," I feel like we should snuggle." I walked over and hugged her. We didn't hear people come in and a friend walks in and said,"Ummm…. excuse me?" Haha I LOVE MY PEOPLE! We laughed, cried, prayed, talked, encouraged each other, played games, ate Halloween candy, made taquitos at 9pm, celebrated my brother in law passing the California bar exam to became an attorney (YAY HUGH AND HOLLIE!), had thanksgiving with family in Hemet. So. Much. Fun. So. Much. to be thankful for.
Matt had a job interview that we had been waiting to hear about. This is a job that he really really wants. It is taking extra long to hear if he got the job and it has started to get us both discouraged. He has diligently…i mean DILIGENTLY been looking for a job for one year. He has done so much to try and get a job that really the only reason he doesn't have it is because the Lord has kept a job from him.
The Lord has continually revealed to me my sinful heart and the wrong thinking that I have about this situation, who God is, etc. but probably nothing more than Christian Karma. My good friend said that to me once (I might have even wrote about it on this blog but I still fight it all the time.) Even as Christians (who say that we don't believe in Karma)we really do. We think that if we have had hard trials in our lives, we are DUE for something good to happen. It's about time. Losing a house? Check. Infertility? Check. Losing a baby ( a couple actually) through adoption? Check. Job losses? Check. Leukemia? FREAKING LEUKEMIA? Check!!!! Matt should have been gifted as the CEO of a company by now. WAIT……NO….. That is what my sinful heart says but it's not true and I have to tell myself this all the time.
Waiting this long to hear about a job just seems cruel and wrong. When you go through something as hard as cancer as bad as that was, this waiting period is just as hard. My friend Byron says you want to bolt but you can't. I hate it. I am not even going to pretend I don't to look good. I hate it.
I was talking to Matt his morning as we are both discouraged and I had to remind him of all the ways the Lord has blessed us lately. The ballet, unexpected money for our California trip, a free dinner, I opened up an old wallet the other day and found $200 in it that I used for Christmas presents! We deserve none of it….. and I can almost hear you shout but you guys do! But we don't. And I hate the fact that we don't. But we don't. I cry as I type it.
This world is not my home. As much as I want to make it my comfy home, decorated cute, it's not and I'm thankful that it's not. I want it to be but I tell Jesus all the time that I am thankful that He doesn't give us what we want but what we need. When I am in heaven worshipping Him, none of this will matter. And when that is happening, He is going to shower me with all that I don't deserve. I would rather have that.
I remember being little. I don't know if I was in preschool or early grade school. I remember that my dad called Hollie and I into his bedroom and had us sit down. He got out his bible and asked us if we knew what was in it. He explained that God had given men His words to write down. It was God talking to us. It was important to read it. I honestly don't remember all that he said about that part but for the first time he shared a bible verse with us. He read to us Romans 6:23…..
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
He explained that one sentence to us and in that he explained the gospel. Whether you believe it or not, we are all sinners and because God is sinless and holy we deserve death as the payment (the wages) for our sin BUT there is good news. God's gift to us is eternal life THROUGH Jesus Christ to all who put their faith in Him.
Those who knew my dad knew that he did not always have the softest, most gentle approach but he was passionate about people coming to know Jesus Christ. I smiled as I read that verse thinking about that day he shared it with us on his bed. Now thinking that tomorrow would have been his birthday but he is sitting with Jesus. Feasting at the table with the One who paid that wage on his behalf.
No more Outback Steakhouse gift cards for your birthday dad. You are eating with the King.
I was going along my merry way this week. Self centered, with a divided heart. Thinking about all the things in my life I wish were different, all the material things that I was concerned with….then it happened. A close friend of mine was having a medical emergency. There is nothing like that to swoop you out of your self centered life and remind you what really matters, what is important, and who is in control of it all.
As I was helpless and thousands of miles away, I drove home from work and started begging the Lord on her behalf. I was crying and fighting anger as I prayed. "LORD, WHERE ARE YOU?" I've had a lot of silence from Him as we have been really praying that Matt will get a job soon and as that has been weighing on our hearts, this happens.
One of the hardest parts to go through in a trial is when there is no movement. Nothing. Nada. Hanging out. Trying to keep your mind set on what's true. But it weighs on you. Then when an even bigger crisis comes. BOOM! It wakes you up. I went from praying about these things to pleading with the Lord on my friend's behalf.
On my way home, it started to drizzle rain. It was like a few tear drops. It reminded me of Jesus talking to Martha when Lazarus died. Her brother had just died and she said to Him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Jesus saw her weeping and those with her and then it says that He wept. (John 11) I know that His weeping was because of our fallen world and that results in sorrow and death but I also know He loved this family.
I was reminded how much the Lord loves Matt and I. How much He loves my friend. He hurts when we hurt. He is a loving God. That also means He is going to do what's best for us. He is building in us endurance, character and hope. (Romans 5:3-4) He is in complete control and He does answer prayer. My friend turned out to be fine (for now) and I cried again as I got this news.
Man, life is hard! It makes me long for heaven. As I continue to wait for a job for Matt, give my friend's health up to the hands of Jesus, look at Him with a clearer focus, I just want to remember that He cares. He loves us. We are His. He isn't up in heaven with a metal rod moving things as He pleases without any care on how it affects us. He weeps for us. With us. Something so simple but a comfort to remember because I easily forget. Sometimes the more theology (stuff about God) you know, the more it can cloud the simplicity of what is true. His love. His care. His concern. His best.
No matter what you are going through, whatever you are waiting for, whatever answer that hasn't come yet. He loves and cares for you too. Praise Him.
As I should be studying John for an upcoming lecture, I am thankful to the Lord that He has taken me to Philippians. I have been in a funk the last couple of days. It could be that I have been sick but also I have really been asking the Lord for some things and frankly, He has not answered in the timely manner that I would like. I begged Him yesterday for some answers and He remained silent. Normally I wouldn't mind sharing with y'all the desires of my heart but I know it would turn into…"You and Matt deserve it with all you've been through." or " I totally understand."
As I was reading through Philippians today Paul writes,
"Indeed, I count everything as loss, because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ." I just looked at that and thought…"But the heart wants what it wants….. and it wants!" Really, I want to say that I count everything as loss but I don't. I "want" bad. Yesterday I read in Philippians 2:13 "For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." That verse tells me two things. One, it is God who does the work in me. I can't do it. My heart is sinful and selfish so I need Him. But secondly, it tells me that the work is for HIS good pleasure. Not mine. His ultimate will will be done in my life to accomplish His purpose. As much as that hurts sometimes, I get it. Philippians 2:5 says why. So that "you shine as lights in the world." Frankly, most times we shine brighter through trials than we do with out them. I have had more conversations with people going through hard times because of the hard times I have been through.
So how does God do that work in me? verse 16 says,"Holding fast to the Word of Life." I have to cling to Him. Be in God's word so that He can comfort me. Abide in Him. Let Him transform my heart and mind. Even when it stings and I have this internal struggle.
Yet, if you think He doesn't care, Paul reminds us in 4:19
"And My God will supply every need of yours according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus."
Not every want but every need. And sometimes we get mixed up what we want and what we need. My heart wants what it wants….and it wants…but clinging to my Savior with hope that He will turn those wants into something similar to His.
"O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let Thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander,Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for They courts above."
Happy New Year everyone! I have spent sometime reflecting on 2014 and thinking about the new year…..like everyone else. 2014 gave us some highs and lows. The biggest high was Matt's leukemia being in remission. We got our daddy and husband back. He has regained strength and has been able to start doing things with us as a family, church, soccer games and friends. We have LOVED it. He is in year two of his (hopefully) 3 year treatment. His dr. visits are now limited to 2 a month and he just got the OK to start looking for a job.
2014 was also tough. I lost my dad and grandma a month apart. My dad's illness was rough for a while before he passed away and I still think about all that that entails but I do believe that my dad believed the gospel and is in heaven. My grandma (his mom) loved the Lord and after my dad died, her whole immediate family was gone and she just wanted to get to heaven to be with them. My grandma was a prayer warrior and sometimes I thought the Lord kept her alive specifically so that we would continue to be prayed for. I'm so happy that they are together and I'm thankful for the hope we have in heaven to see them again. My mom has taken care of them for so long that now that they are gone, there is a void for sure. I'm praying for my mom's grief, and her future decisions.
This marked Lucy's first season of soccer. While her games were…..entertaining as the "Cotton Candy Girls", Ivy's team was more competitive and this mama loved it! I have thanked the girls for playing soccer for me.(wink) I'm waiting for them to tell me to get out on the field and "do it myself" as I call out some "helpful instruction". (No matter that I have never played the sport before in my life! haha)
I have read so many comments that 2015 is going to be the best year yet. Some people have struggled through trials, breakups, job loss, sickness, devastation in the year 2014, and as I want to say that for the Elliott's I hope that this is our best year yet, I can't do it. Why? Because I have learned after all these years that life is hard, trials come, sickness comes, death is real.
Listen, I want Matt to get a job this year that can support our family, I NEED to lose weight, I want a breath of fresh air from hardship, I have vowed to take better care of my 42 year old skin and body.
But really, whatever the year brings, I want to cling to Jesus. I want to study Him to know Him better. Less head knowledge, more heart. Enter into a deeper relationship because I know that whatever 2015 brings, I'm going to need Him.
This year brought a lot I'm thankful for. I saw my husband crawl back from being at death's door, the Lord financially took care of our needs. I've made deeper friendships in Tennessee. I enjoyed my girls. My dad met Jesus face to face!
I struggle with a lot of material wants. I can yell out how I think apartment living is not for me. :) There are some stores I could live at. But I am starting to see that my happiness and contentment has nothing to do with things and places (as much as I think they do) and it's more to do with Him. I hope that on paper that this is our best year yet but if it's not. I choose Him. Whatever we are going to go through, I'll go with Him and the 3 other people He has blessed me with. Here's to see what 2015 brings…bring it on!