Friday, March 1, 2013

Fighting the Winter Blues


Anyone who knows me very well is not at all surprised by this statement. I don't like the cold. I don't like the snow. I don't like the ice. (I WILL begrudgingly confess that the snow is pretty when it is freshly fallen and bright white, but when you have to commute to work and you like to exercise outside winter is NOT your friend.)

Last winter during a particularly blustery, cold, and windy evening as I was heading to youth group I asked a friend, "When God said 'Do all things without grumbling and complaining.' in Philippians surely He did not mean to include Iowa winters in 'all things', right?" This person (who shall remain nameless) said, "NO! Definitely not!" (or something to that affect.) (*note - in all seriousness, I know, and this friend who said this knows that when God said ALL things He meant ALL things) However, I have used this as my excuse this winter to freely complain about the cold, the snow, the bad roads, winter trying to eat my car (aka sliding into the shoulder of a road and getting part way buried in a snow drift). Yes, I have been freely complaining and using my friend's answer as my excuse.

So, today, after a particularly long week (or seemingly long week anyway, one of my other friends likes to point out that time is never any longer or shorter than another time.... five minutes always lasts five minutes, one week always lasts one week, but seriously - sometimes it SEEMS like time either is flying by or dragging on and on and on and on - kind of like this bunny trail I just went on...) Anyway, I stopped at my friend Sharon's shop - Chickenshed Primitives in Huxley for $5.00 Fresh Flower Bouquet Friday and picked up a beautiful bouquet of spring flowers to brighten my apartment. Now, as long as I don't look out my window at the snow or pay attention to my cold fingers and toes I may be OK for the rest of the weekend anyway!

I have a relaxing and enjoyable weekend planned as well. My social media and TV break is going really well. God has been drawing me to Himself and showing me so many things. I have heard His voice in the stillness. I have felt His presence in the quiet. I have been reading, writing in my journal, enjoying time with friends, reflecting on what Easter is really all about - which brings us back to Spring. Spring-time is a time of newness of life. God has been doing amazing things in deadening the lies in my head and helping me to replace them with His Truth. He is doing an amazing, miraculous work in my heart and I am truly grateful. These flowers represent what God is doing in me - just like the roses will open up and bloom, He is causing His Spirit to bloom in my heart. The difference is, the flower will eventually die, but God's Spirit is ever alive in me and for that I am ever grateful.

With Gratitude,


Sunday, February 24, 2013

יהוה רפאך

יהוה רפאך - The Lord Your Healer

Warning - this is gonna be long, so either buckle up, or don't read if you don't want to... but I need to say all of this.

God has been doing some pretty amazing stuff in my life this week. It all started last Sunday during Sunday School when we were talking about that little 5 page chapter in the book we are reading. The chapter was on Silence, Solitude, and Prayer. I wrote some about that last Sunday in my last blog post, but what you don't know is what happened Monday. Here's an excerpt from my personal journal on Monday night:

This morning on my way to work I started praying, with music softly in the background and thought about our discussion yesterday so turned the radio off and prayed, and cried, and prayed, and cried.... then I thought about what Gabe said yesterday about starting off with a stop watch and doing 5 minutes of silence. So, I looked at the clock and decided to just be silent for 5 minutes.

Longest. Five. Minutes. Ever.

During that time, it of course was not completely silent. I could hear my car engine, the fan on the blower on my heat, etc.... and then there were the voices in my head and me trying to discern God's voice in the midst of all the other stuff. I thought about the blog I just read on fasting and wondered if God was calling me to a fast. But then I thought about my difficulty with food and how that might emotionally not be a good thing for me - at some point I think fasting, from food, will be something I do again, but right now with my eating disorder barely under control I don't think it's what God is calling me to.... then I heard, at least I think I heard, God saying - TV - give up TV for the rest of Lent - and maybe longer. What? Did I hear that right? Hmmmm.... after the Longest. Five. Minutes. Ever. I was relieved to see the clock turn over the next minute - I turned the radio on, praying in my heart that the music I would hear would be what I needed to hear.

I honestly don't remember what song was on the radio, but I do know that for the rest of the day I kept wondering if it was God I was hearing or something else. I finally decided that what I thought I heard wasn't a bad thing so I would just do it and see what happened. As soon as I got home I put my digital converter box (yes, I still have an old TV) in a bag to give to a friend to hold onto for me.

I sat.

In silence.

Just sat.

In that moment I knew it WAS God who had spoken to me... He made it very clear that He had spoken and He affirmed it in my heart. I didn't hear a loud booming voice, I didn't see a burning bush, it was in the stillness, in the silence... I knew. I just knew.

So, now what? No Facebook. No Twitter. No TV. Well, I still have my computer, there's plenty to entertain me - but I knew God wasn't asking me to replace one form of entertainment for another, He was asking me to learn to be still. "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10 So, this week I have been still. I have spent more time with no radio in my car than with the radio on. I have spent time in God's Word, doing the read through the Bible, reading the blog posts by the awesome youth staff. I have been doing a Lenten reading on my You Version Bible plan. I have been reading the Lenten devotional that our pastor had e-mailed the link to. In all of the reading and all of the time I've been praying God has been speaking to me about my WRONG thoughts that "I am too broken to be healed."  Really Sherri? The God who created the universe, the God who created everything out of nothing, the God who healed lepers, blind men, DEAD men... YOU think YOU are TOO BROKEN for THIS GOD to heal? NO! You are His precious child and He loves you and PROMISES healing.

Then this morning, I got to church and had a great time worshiping God in song. I hadn't even looked to see what characteristic of God we were going to be studying this morning. Then Pastor Marty started the message - Jehovah Rapha: In Hebrew: יהוה רפאך - The Lord Your Healer. I thought to myself, "OK, God, I know You have something for me in this - I'm just not sure what all these other people are doing here." C'mon, you know you've had those moments in church where you think the pastor is speaking RIGHT TO YOU. Yeah, it was one of those mornings. He opened by talking about Exodus 15:22-26 where the Israelites had been in the desert for 3 days - they were THIRSTY. They found water and drank - and spit it out because it was bitter. Moses cried out to God and God told him to toss a piece of wood into the water and it made it sweet.

  • God can take the most bitter situation and turn it sweet.
Pastor Marty went on to talk about how when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden it brought physical, emotional, and spiritual brokenness into the picture. He talked about questions to ask if you are experiencing brokenness:
  • is it because of my own sin?
  • is it because of someone else's sin?
  • is it because I live in a broken world?
  • is it an opportunity to give God praise?
  • is it an opportunity to show satan is wrong?
  • is it a reminder to long for heaven?
  • is it an opportunity to see/show others that God's grace is sufficient?
He ended with 7 things to do if you are experiencing brokenness:
  1. Turn to Christ.
  2. Pray for healing.
  3. Invite others to pray for you.
  4. Seek professional help as warranted.
  5. Ask for God's grace to endure.
  6. Be open to God's way of healing.
  7. Celebrate that one day you WILL BE healed. (Revelation 21:4 "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
A couple of weeks ago I thought about talking to Pastor Marty about meeting with the elders for them to come around me, anoint me with oil, and pray with me for healing. James 5:14 says "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord." I was really feeling like I was at a point where I needed that. Then, this morning, Pastor Marty mentions that the men's group has been studying James this semester and he mentioned that verse and said if anyone felt the need for that, the elders would be at the front and we could come up. He said if we didn't feel comfortable there then we could contact him and it could be done another time. But, I strongly felt God urging me to go forward. It was an amazing experience that words can not do justice to. It was a powerful time of prayer and God definitely prepared me for this morning through this past week. I had finally come to the place where I realized that all of my brokenness, all of my hurt, all of my pain is no surprise to God - He is LORD OF ALL. 

God can take the most bitter situation and turn it sweet.

I look forward to seeing how God is going to take the anger and bitterness I feel and turn it into something sweet.

He is God.

He is able.

In the Hands of Jehovah Rapha,