Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Voice of Truth

I was really looking forward to the month of February this year, for some reason. More so than ever before.

I was actually feeling something of excitement in the air as I thought of Valentine's Day approaching, and all that comes with it - flowers, candy, pink (I just love pink!) and LOVE.

I need to state right here that this is NOT like me at all - just ask Mark. I've never really been big into this holiday at all. I am always appreciative when he buys me flowers and a nice card, but we usually don't "celebrate" it, if you know what I mean.

Also, I was excited about February coming because I was going to be getting away by myself for 6 whole days!! You wives and mothers out there know exactly what I am saying!! No laundry, carpooling, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning.....Ahh!

I was scheduled to go to LaFayette, IN for a biblical counseling training conference at the beginning of the month. This was going to be my second time going, as I also attended back in 2006.

So I was looking forward to February and all that it would bring, especially in the middle of winter in Wisconsin, right? ;) Unfortunately, the State of Indiana greatly mimics Wisconsin so I wasn't going to warm, beach-like weather, but that was okay because I was going to be indoors practically the entire time anyway.

What I didn't realize then, was that February, this "month of Love" that I was so looking forward to, was going to at the tail end of it, shake my faith to its very core.

I didn't realize that I would come face to face with what I now believe, was and has been the BIGGEST obstacle of my very own Life, literally and figuratively; the WALL that was stopping me from healing from Lyme Disease once and for all...the WALL that I needed to knock down if I ever wanted to have Shalom, in my life on earth. And I am not talking about peace and rest that comes from a body free of physical symptoms. I am talking about a Peace within.

Because I have learned in my journey through Life that pursuing physical health while dismissing or ignoring or not addressing or whatever the other "parts" of me, that is, my heart and soul, would never, ever bring me the Peace I was truly after.

As I sat before many humble, servants of God speak and teach Truth and Love to all of us, all 1,600 of us...from 20 different countries, and 40 different states...all gathering together to be filled with what I was also pursuing and needing so much in my own life, I learned that my WALL had a name, finally...Phew! Yippee! I thought. I get it!

Now all I have to DO if I want healing, in my physical body...but more so in my mind and soul, is to just KNOCK IT DOWN!

This is what I was thinking about and pondering in the days returning from my trip.

The thing is, I knew it wasn't going to be easy for me at all. I mean, COME ON, let's be realistic here, my friends and readers - I have a "Type A" personality. I have control issues. I am driven to accomplish whatever I set my mind to. I am a perfectionist. And yes, these "traits" of mine have helped me so much in my life; these "gifts" of mine have been used for good. I know this to be true. However, they were no longer working for me any longer. In fact, they were actually working against me.  

Because, physically speaking, a human body can really only handle so much right? God did not design our bodies to operate and function under so much stress, inner and outer.

So at least now I had a name for my WALL and I could begin the process of knocking it down. I knew enough by then to know that this was going to be a slow walk between me and God because of my "nature", but also realizing that my Life is a journey after all - not a sprint...but a marathon. And I am use to running, instead of walking. I am use to striving, instead of being still. I am use to doing, instead of being.

And I've learned that it is about pruning and growing...pruning and growing...all along the way, but always in the name of LOVE.

Always. No matter what. No matter what I have experienced in my life. Death. Loss. Gut-wretching grief. Buckets and buckets of tears collected.

Ohhh... but I have to STOP myself and remember my blessings...my gifts straight from Heaven above...all flowing through my God's loving fingertips...where in the world could I possibly even begin to start a thank you note to God? I'm mean, seriously. Think about it.

Let's see...how about I just simply start with - Thank you God for this day. Thank you that You gave me the breath to take to live this day... 

I learned that THAT is where my focus needs to be moment by moment, NOT on what I didn't get or want, or deserved, but rather on I was given what I needed because I was loved so much.

Not based on the circumstances of my Life, but rather on the WHO of my Life. My Creator. My Holy Father. My Giver of Gifts. My Lord of Lords. My Mighty Father.

My Healer

Because it is ALL coming from His Loving Hands. All of it....it is ALL in the name of LOVE.

And to knock down this WALL of mine that I had built pretty high up around my heart based on what I needed to do at the time to make it through...

I needed to Trust.

So THAT is what it came down to for me, once and for all.

Trust

I recently learned that for me this is the bridge between belief and faith.

Who am I going to believe IN when the next trial comes? Because the Truth is - being motivated by FEAR had really gotten me nowhere towards my goal of healing. My goal of obtaining Peace.

So I decided to start taking each step in faith, instead of fear. It was a choosing on my part.

Because my heart and mind sure needed leading, as I no longer trusted myself at the job. I knew that much to be true by then. It just wasn't working for me any longer.

The truth is:
I just didn't realize that my "test" was going to come so fast and so strong and so real in the way it did...

I was blindsided, quite simply. Absolutely 100% blindsided. I just hate when that happens!

This "test" took everything out of me. It really, truly put my faith to the test. Were my words and actions going to match up with what I now knew to be TRUE?

Was I, Lori, going to believe the Voice of Truth over anyone else's? Bottom line.

WAS I GOING TO KNOCK DOWN THIS WALL OF MINE - FEAR - ONCE AND FOR ALL AND WALK IN FAITH?

I believed I passed the test... ;-) BUT with A LOT of help along the way...with A LOT of prayer that lifted and carried me to this point...with A LOT of Love pouring into me...

I am so humbly thankful to all of you who were there for me, and our family, in the midst of my WALL coming down...I hope you know who you are...that I have expressed my thankfulness and gratitude to you... If not, I hope you will accept it here and now as you read this.

With that being said, the road to here, right now in this moment, has not been easy by any means...

What I am comfortable sharing with all of you, my readers, in this type of venue is this:

The decision Mark & I made back in December to help out Breoine and his family...our "Do Good Anyway" approach that we had taken - well, it didn't turn out the way we expected.

Although we were lovingly advised from the start about the "possibility" of us being "scammed", I didn't believe it would end up where it has.

I never thought I would hear from him again. After all, at the end of January, I called and got the police department and child protective services involved in his case. I was assured that he and his family would be taken care of.

With much relief and thankfulness, really, I moved on with my life. I went to Indiana. I returned. I continued to battle the symptoms of Lyme Disease, but I knew with a much better focus this time around...and I was feeling lighter and less frazzled, honestly, even though my physical symptoms hadn't really changed.

And then FEAR came knocking on my door. Literally.

And once again, it paralyzed me. I got STUCK. Ugh! I thought I was making progress...

Oh...and then, slowly...prayerfully, I remembered all I had learned in Indiana...all the Truth I had let fill me to overflowing into my heart and mind...all that I was currently in the midst of trying to do in my Life...

KNOCK DOWN MY WALL OF FEAR 

But, come on God! I cried out. Seriously? In this way? Now? COME ON! I need more time!!!

No. The answer came strong and clear. This is where the rubber meets the road.

Choose Lori: FAITH or FEAR

No other options. That's it. It is now or never.

What do I want Matthew, Megan, and Luke to SEE in ME about my walk with God? What do I want them to learn and know about God even in the midst of this darkness? Wow! That thought sure stopped me dead in my tracks.

Do I want them to see that my choices are motivated by FEAR? No way. Life is hard enough all on its own. They will get knocked down, time and time again. That is just Life.

I want my children to see through me and the way I respond to this current trial that having faith is so much more than just saying the "right" words or saying empty prayers to a genie in the sky.  Having true faith, for me, has been walking the walk...and I mean that quite literally. And it has been the scariest time of my life, quite honestly. I have never, ever experienced FEAR of this magnitude before. Yes, I have been fearful of a lot of things....but more on a personal, intimate level.

Not real, live active FEAR like this. Afraid to step outside of our door kind of fear. Paralyzing fear of the "unknown" and the "what-if's" happening'

I want them to KNOW that they KNOW that they KNOW in the days ahead that...really, for the rest of their days on this earth:

They are Loved beyond measure and Pursued relentlessly by our Father in Heaven, who is and always will be their Protector, no matter what life brings them. And that God is the Mighty One. That He is Good. And that most importantly, even in darkness, light dawns for the upright!

I want them to know they do not need to fear bad news as long as their hearts are steadfast. As long as they are trusting in the Lord. As long as they listen and obey the Voice of Truth...that is where true safety and protection and love are found.

I want them to learn from this whole situation to Stand Firm in the "gap"...I want them to learn and know WHO they are in Christ Jesus and the POWER that is within them. Because that is the ONLY way one can stand firm in this world.

I want them to learn that people are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered, but FORGIVE THEM ANYWAY. I don't want this to stop them from Doing Good Anyway - ever, especially if it is Love and Peace guiding their steps.

God says DO NOT BE AFRAID.  He says, YOU ARE DOING THIS FOR ME.  He says the waves are going to call out my name and laugh at me and try to CRUSH me; that the Giants will try to put my WALL back up...

No! I will no longer accept that!

I will CHOOSE to listen and believe the Voice of Truth!

Faith, not fear...faith, not fear...faith, not fear...

And each step is grounded in not only faith at this point, but also good wise counsel from dear family and friends, and even from a veteran Police Officer with that Brooklyn, New York accent speaking Truth to my soul...because after all, he has seen so much more in the world than I, that is for sure.

I was ignorant of the reality of the world we live in. I accept that. I have been somewhat "sheltered", even growing up with a Police Officer for a dad. I have been busy for the past 14 years tending to our home and children. 

With that being said, I am still thankful for ALL of it.  

And, most importantly, I have learned and realized that hindsight is always 20/20. Don't you just love that?

And even with my now "20/20 vision", I would not change a thing.

Why? You may ask... and some already have, and I'm sure many of you are wondering the same thing.

I've learned in a BIG way that there comes a time in Life when the questions just need to cease, just STOP once and for all...

and FAITH begins...and FAITH guides the way

Breoine needed my help that day and Love guided my steps. I will never, ever regret that. And I completely understand how "irrational" or "foolish" that may seem to some of you who are reading my blog. I can and do accept that.

I've also learned and have come to appreciate on a much, much deeper level just what my own dad and sister have given of themselves to protect and serve all of us. And then my mind travels to all of the other people we know in law enforcement in just our circle...from the family we carpool with...to my dear friend's husband...to our 2 neighbors right down the street...

I have a whole new sense of Honor and Respect for their profession.

So, as we take safety and security measures to protect ourselves and our home, would you please keep us in your prayers? We continue to hope and pray that Peace will be restored in our lives and our home.

I know that in the days following 2/24/11 up until right this very minute, that prayer is what has sustained me.

Most specifically, can you pray for ME....that I will be able to continue to STAND FIRM and walk in faith and not fear - each step along the way...that this young boy and his family truly get the help they need.

Thank you for reading my blog and my story...I appreciate so much all of the love, encouragement, and support you have so graciously bestowed upon our family.

I would like to end this very difficult post to write, on a "positive" and "encouraging" note, not one of gloom and doom. I do believe All is well.

As this month of "Love" comes to a close...I have to remind myself over and over again, as I was also doing  back in January when I was so eagerly anticipating what February would bring for me is this:  

Now these three remain:
Faith, Hope, and Love.
But the Greatest of these is Love.
1 Corinthians 13:13

Honestly, I was sort of expecting maybe, possibly... a dozen roses from Mark, not all of this...when I had Valentine's Day on my brain. See how I am trying to find the humor in all of this? I do so because I have also learned since last week Thursday that a really good - straight from your belly kind of LAUGH - will make the load feel lighter! So please feel free to send me some good jokes!


Thank you for reading my story. Thank you for your prayers, encouragement, support as our family takes this leap of faith...

Warmly and with much love,
Lori

To find out more information about the biblical counseling conference I attended please click here:
http://www.jconline.com/article/20110212/LIFE07/102120314/Biblical-counseling-students-hope-to-keep-Christ-in-the-message-
http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1859778219268&oid=286127038505&comments

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Failure is NOT an option!

I am writing this post during what they say will be one of the worst snowstorms the entire country has seen in a long time. It is also two days before Mark's promotion to Fire Captain, and I think of his Climb. I think of what it represents to our children and how much more of an impact it has on them than he realizes. I don't think he realizes the honor he deserves for his service to the Milwaukee Fire Department for the past 20 years...the many lives I know he has personally saved, the sacrifices he has made, the role model and teacher he has been to many people. But mostly I don't think he realizes just how closely his climb is being watched.

Our youngest son, Luke, who is 7-years old, always puts forth 110% effort in whatever he sets his mind to do. Unfortunately, he is his own worst enemy because any small amount of even possible failure, he is ready to throw in the towel. His frustration level with himself can easily spill into an all out battle. Last year he had a few months of extra reading help and his teacher and I were both just amazed at how much better he was doing. We both attributed it to him just needing a "confidence booster."

Last fall while I was sitting at one of Luke's soccer games, I realized just how much he struggles with self-confidence, especially when it was his turn to be Goalie. Holy cow! Did he ever hate being Goalie! Just the look on his face! I realized what a tough position that is to play: you feel like the WHOLE team is counting on YOU. And if you mess up and the other team scores, you feel like it's YOUR fault, even though we all know in reality it isn't. It is a team effort...all along the way. That is something that he is learning with time.

By the third score against our team, I knew Luke was done. Completely done, especially when I saw the tears come (trust me - they don't come easily with my little tough guy).

And interestingly enough, everyone knew exactly where he'd go - right into his momma's waiting, open arms. He didn't even look at Mark or his coach. And I just let him fall into my lap and cry because I knew what he was feeling. I think I may have actually physically felt it too (it's a mother thing ;).

While I'm patting his back, inside I'm thinking, What do I SAY to him? He can't just sit here and cry! The game is still going on! They need him!

But then again, I knew my child and I knew what he needed to hear from me right then.

I said, "Luke, failure is NOT an option! You go back out there and you continue to do the best you can and it is OKAY if you mess up! It is about learning the game and having fun and figuring out what position you play the best! We believe in you. Now you need to believe in yourself." He stood up, wiped the tears from his face with his shirt (of course!) and walked back out on the field.

I don't even remember now if they ever won that game or not. It doesn't even really matter. I just hope that Luke learned what he needed to that day.

But what he needs to learn (trust me - I'm also preaching to the choir here: me!) is that it is ALL about the Climb, isn't it?

So this one's for you, Luke, in honor of your daddy's upcoming promotion. I know you probably won't read this until you're older, and I hope by then you have a deeper understanding of what this all means. I am going to share the Truth with you now that I couldn't share with you that day on the soccer field.

Here it is: Failure IS an option.

It just IS. That's the Truth. And sometimes it has nothing to do with YOU at all. Life is not easy or fair. It will knock you down. It will bring you to your knees. There will be always be another uphill battle. Another mountain to climb. Dreams shattered. Your faith will be shakin'. That's just Life.

But... in the end, if you keep the faith, stay strong, just keep pushing on... it's really ALL about the climb. Those are the moments that count. Those are the moments that define you, the moments that make up your Life. And, Luke, one more thing...there is also a lot of Joy along the way and especially, in the end. So, keep climbing Luke.......keep climbing.......and I will always be here to be a soft place for you to fall if you do.

Thank you, Mark, for showing them how to do the climb well. We are so proud of you!