Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: July 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Oh the Messes I Get Into!

Standing on the white sandy beach after dark, gazing into the stars I was in awe of God’s majesty and His goodness to share glimpses of Himself with us. I was thrilled to finally be at the beach! What a gift! Then to my dismay, the pier closed and we had to find another way back to the condo where we were staying. We could walk way down the beach and get back on the road, but wait! There were houses lining the beach. Surely we could cut across one of the private piers and get to the road quicker. Yes! That was definitely the route to take.

We were quietly tiptoeing down the pier when we came to a locked gate. Without giving it much thought, I hopped down into the grasses below and OHHHH! Oh my goodness! What in the world was down there? I felt like I had stepped onto a porcupine. Trying to stifle my screams I literally hopped back to the pier crying, “Ooo, Ooo, Ooo” with each jump. As I fell onto the pier I saw enormous prickly “porcupines” all in my feet.

Furiously, I began yanking those little monsters out. What? You’ve got to be kidding me? They stuck in my hands as I pulled them out. Now I had what looked like tacky Christmas ornaments dangling from my hands and my feet! The more I pulled on these little boogers, needles started breaking into my skin, leaving behind painful reminders of my rash decision not to take shoes to the beach. After what seemed like forever, I got all visible signs of these humongous thistle thingys out of my foot, but the pain lingered. Some of those nasty needles are still in my feet but I can’t even see them to get them out!

Its been three days since I made that dreadful decision to hop off that pier and I’ve learned a few things. I’d like to share them with you:

1.When we try to take the easy way out, it might seem right for the moment, but its consequences can linger with us for a long time.

2.In our haste to rid ourselves of pain, we might inflict more pain. Sometimes pain is a healthy thing. It alerts our bodies to problems. We need not to ignore our pain, or look for quick fixes, but need to seek God’s healing power.
3.When we venture off the right path, there are all kinds of traps waiting to ensnare us!

4.God’s timing is always perfect. I want quick fixes, but He wants me to wait on Him!

5.We need to wear the right armor (in this case, I needed my shoes)!

6.Others might not see the pain on the outside, but that doesn’t mean its not there.

So, next time I’m on the beach, you’d better believe I will stay on the beaten path. When the journey seems long and arduous, God promises to carry me!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Answered prayers: God turned my tears to joy!

When my husband died five years ago, I remember sitting in the counselor's office and telling her that I was praying, asking God to turn my weeping to laughing and my mourning to dancing. She said, "Natalie, those are two extremes. Maybe you should hope for something in the middle."

After living with Michael's bipolar disorder, I understood what it meant to live in the "extremes." However, I truly believed that God wanted me to pray Psalm 126:5-6 which says, "Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping...will return with songs of joy."

I didn't just want to survive Michael's suicide; I wanted to thrive again. I'll never forget the moment I realized that God had answered my prayer.

It was the one year anniversary of Michael's death. Many of my friends had gathered with me to take me out so that I wouldn't face such a tough day alone. We decided to go to a community contradance (For those of you who don't know what this is it is way cool! Click here to watch it in action). I figured that this would make me focus on the dance moves instead of on my grief.

At the break, the caller announced that a group of first timers had come and that we were having so much fun that we must be celebrating something. My stomach dropped. Celebrating? Oh how could I? It was the anniversary of Michael's death and I was dancing! I realized how horrible this must seem -- I must be horrible. It was in that moment that the Holy Spirit gently spoke to my heart.

"My daughter, did you not ask me to turn your weeping to laughing and your mourning to dancing? Tonight is evidence of my answer."

Wow! I hadn't even realized it, but God had been in the process of transforming me and healing my wounds. I won't say that everything was peachy after that because there were and are still difficult days. I will say that that was a turning point for me. It was then that I realized that God was truly changing my tears to joy.

I have written our story and I am currently seeking publication. Join me in prayer as I move forward to share with others how God wants to turn their tears into joy.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Living in the Here and Now

As most of you know, I am working on my PhD in Counseling. I spent two weeks last month on campus in class, all day every day. During this intense week, I not only learned a lot about counseling others, but I also did a tremendous amount of introspection. One of the things that resonated with me was the challenge to live in the “here and now.” We have a tendency to live in the past or to long for the future and we miss the present.

July 4th carries so many memories for me that it would be easy for me to focus on the “Good ‘Ole Days” and miss what God has for me today. In the same way, when I think of our country’s future, I can get overwhelmed and discouraged. Instead, I am choosing to live today.

I heard a pastor once say that living life was like driving a car. When you drive you look at the road just in front of you. You occasionally glance at the rear view mirror, but if you focus on what’s behind you, you are going to crash. You also occasionally look at what’s way ahead in the road, but if you focus there too long, you may hit the pothole right in front of you. Its important that we remember our past and we think about our future, but we can’t stay there. We have to learn to live in the moment. This is especially difficult when we are hurting – we want answers—we want to know what the future holds. I’ve realized that I can drive myself crazy pondering all the “what if’s?” and I have to live in the moment. By choosing to live in the moment, I am trusting God with the future.

I don’t know what you are facing this independence day, but I pray that you will walk in freedom from anxiety and fear. I pray that we will all learn to trust more and worry less. This video clip shows how we can allow the world to tarnish us and keep us from walking in freedom. Click here to watch video.