There is no condition of life in which we cannot abide in Jesus. We have to learn to abide in Him wherever we are placed-Oswald Chambers
I read this quote this morning and instantly felt conviction. God has placed Graham and I already in several states over the last few years and with each new move comes a new challenge. Right now we are continuing to apply for residencies (he is almost a doctor!) and learning to hear God's whisper lead us to where we should go.
I find it has been a lot easier to follow and abide in God when the surroundings are appealing, easy, comfortable, and life just seems to work out smoothly. With that said, living in New Hampshire, the challenges here have been significantly more than Maine, New York, and Massachusetts. I see how I have fallen short in my abiding of Him. More and more I am blessed to experience God's love and grace through each season of my life. I often run from my conviction...laughing it off instead of taking the time to mourn my condition. After all, mourning is often a gateway to blessing. So, this morning I am simply praying this prayer "Lord, teach me to abide in You wherever you place me; teach me to be content, whatever the circumstance."
I was up at 4:50am on Christmas morning (way before Santa) and began my morning with the birthday God (feels weird to say birthday boy?). I spent time reading about sin. "What was that Caren? On Christmas day you just dove into sin?" Yes, yes I did. Here is why: I feel that our world really hates or is uncomfortable with that word. It's too revealing, too abrasive perhaps, and requires us to take a closer look into our intentions. So, instead we say "that was a slip up or mistake." A mistake is something I unintentionally do where as sin is intentional. The reality is, if I don't see (or want to see) the true meaning of sin, I will miss out and perhaps never understand the heights of God's love and grace. Why did Jesus bother coming down from Heaven if sin didn't exist? So, I spent time that morning reflecting and repenting. I don't want to run, hide, or try to cover up my sin anymore. Instead, I am humbling myself and acknowledging where I fall short while simultaneously experiencing God's love, strength, and grace!
The fun continued as the family was up around 10 and we spent time opening gifts and sharing some laughs! One of the most special gifts I received was Graham's grandmother's wedding band, which was re-sized to fit me (shout out to anyone else with a 3 3/4 ring size!). I absolutely love my wedding set but there is something about simplicity that I just can't help but desire. Also, my family in love knows me well as I got MANY mindful coloring books ;) They can tell I have been a tad stressed! Swell water bottles are the top picture! They are the real deal and keep your liquids either hot or cold for a LONG time! No one missed that colon blow cereal up top right? The laughs were unstoppable after that.
C: I am so glad you agreed to do this! I have loved the way our friendship has grown over the years, especially since our husbands are good friends :) Ali, when would you say your faith moved beyond just knowing God to experiencing God?
Ali: I have been going to church ever since I was born and even went to a Christian College, but I must say my ah-ha moment in experiencing the powerful and amazing grace of God was after I graduated college about 3 years ago. Though I have known God my entire life, I feel I have lived a second-hand faith where I thought I was entitled to do whatever I wanted considering I went to church every day and prayed once in a while. Lets just say that train of thought ended up getting me into a lot of trouble throughout my high school and college years, leaving me lost and pretty much ashamed of who I have become. But by the grace of God, he placed a strong Christian man into my life who didn’t care about my past and challenged me to take a deeper look into who God really was and what he was capable of. After college I was left with no direction or confidence in myself. Nursing was my ultimate goal, but I convinced myself that I would never be smart enough to handle such a job. I had a feeling that nursing was my calling, but just wasn’t able to take that leap of faith. I didn’t quite experience God until I was able to truly surrender my faith that God had a plan and would guide me, protect me, and never put me somewhere that I didn’t belong. He has taken care of me in every possible way since that day I surrendered all to Him. I still experience those moments of doubt that I will make a good nurse, but I feel like every time I doubt my abilities, he sends a patient or coworker over to tell me how I will make an amazing nurse. His timing ceases to amaze me.
C: We serve such a loving and re-assuring Father! When we come to the end of ourselves, that is when He can use us the most! What is one thing God has been teaching you this season of your life?
Ali: That it is impossible to live your life on your own terms. Once I start taking control of my life and “forget” to give God the glory, I instantly feel the repercussions. But when I honestly let Him take control, He blesses me more than I could ever imagined/ deserved.
C: "Who will get the glory?" That is a question I am often confronted with too. How do you keep your eyes fixed on God when storms come your way?
Ali: First I start to panic, but once I feel that fear settling in, I turn worship music on so I can’t hear/focus on my own thoughts/ plans to prepare for the storm, but rather let God be the one who is in charge.
C: What are some verses that you often cling to as a reminder of His goodness?
Ali: Matthew 6:33-34 > seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today Philippians 4:13 > I can do ALL things through Him who strengthens me. Proverbs 31:25 > She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future
You will see above that I have gone through my fair share of journals in the last few years. I remember the exact highlights from each one too:
✔️Red-trials during grad school-dug deep into the armor of God
✔️Blue&green-during my first year of marriage
✔️Green-living in Maine and learning contentment (when I fractured my heel and couldn't work out the same for 6 months and learned what it really meant for God to be enough for me as my workouts at that time were a bigger priority)
✔️The Tree- living in New Hampshire, hardest spiritual and mental season of my life- more painful entries but seeing Gods hand too. Brokenness leads to wholeness.
Now begins a new chapter and I am looking forward to allowing God to continue writing my story. I have this gut feeling this 2016 will be a year of victories, in Jesus name. God does not waste pain and God will never leave us. So despite my most recent journal having the most aches and pains, I am confident that this new one will be filled with His blessing.
Questions for you:
You heard me (read me?). Actually, you heard Jesus. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted"-Matthew 5:4. The Sermon on the Mount has always been one of those areas in scripture that leave me with my jaw on the floor. So much of what Jesus is saying goes completely against what the world says; like the statement above.
We have all had dream busters. Maybe you lost your job, found out you can't have children, lost a daughter/son/father/mother, found out you have a terminal illness, lost all your possessions in a fire...and the list goes on. Can you imagine that this is where Jesus says you can find comfort, contentment, and blessing? We don't choose dream busters and we don't invite them. They happen. No one is exempt from them. But to see it as a blessing? So read it this way:
I have found that at the end of me there is singing and rejoicing. I have found that these dream busters are what often change me from the inside and allow me to see the world through Christ's perspective. I've learned to welcome hardship as an opportunity for blessing.
Come close to God [with a contrite heart] and He will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; and purify your [unfaithful] hearts, you double-minded [people]. Be miserable and grieve and weep [over your sin]. Let your [foolish] laughter be turned to mourning and your [reckless] joy to gloom. Humble yourselves [with an attitude of repentance and insignificance] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up, He will give you purpose].
So let me promise you this...although you will walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will NEVER walk alone.
The more I have been reading and meditating on this subject the more I realized...I have MORE to say! What is the solution for brokenness? Brokenness. Yes, the acknowledgement of being broken. I have seen how often I do EVERYTHING I can to keep up appearances that I am fine and everything is okay. I was becoming a master of illusion, an expert at covering pain, a follower of fads, and I didn't want to admit any of it.
GOOD NEWS: God makes the broken whole. Kyle Idleman says it perfectly, "He takes the overlooked, the undervalued, the left out, the written off, the damaged and destroyed, and then he does what only he can do...God loves to make the broken beautiful."
When you live in a world that says "flaws are fatal" your natural response is to cover up any flaw you may have. I say flaws are openings to revealing the power and beauty of God. Only He can use my broken pieces and remold them to what seems best to HIM. The question becomes, "Am I willing to let the cracks show?
In Isaiah 53:5 we see that we are made whole because HE was broken.
"But he was wounded for the wrong we did; he was crushed for the evil we did. The punishment, which made us well, was given to him, and we are healed because of HIS wounds."
No more cover up. No more hiding. No more illusions, avoidance, and falsehood. My name is Caren and I am broken. The good news? I am on the path of being made whole by the One who calls me His own.
We all have brokenness inside and God wants you healed…from the inside out. It becomes a journey that starts with brokenness and then He mends us and makes us whole. I don't think we can truly fulfill our God-given assignment until we are mended and made whole. I don't believe that our Heavenly Father wants us to wake up each day feeling heavy and burdened down.
Instead He made it clear in scripture that He wants us to live with passion and enthusiasm, not dread and anxiety.
Isaiah 61:1 says, “He has sent me to heal the heartbroken…and comfort all who mourn…” Jesus came to set the captives free; Satan came to take the free captive!
Where does this leave us? We must go to God to begin the journey of becoming unbroken. Just like we go to the doctor when we are sick, we must go to God when we are in need of internal healing.
Jesus paid a HUGE price so we could be whole and enjoy an abundant life. God promises in His Word, “The righteous cry out and the Lord hears them. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
LONG overdue post but here it goes! I had the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with my family and it was a BLAST! Not only was it great for physical rest and mental rest, but most importantly spiritual rest. I was able to sit down with my mom and dad and share more about what I have been struggling with. I am not going to lie, I wasn't really able to open up as much until basically the day we were leaving. Sometimes when we are going through the dark valley, it becomes really hard to share the pain we are going through with the ones we love most. I wish I was able to snap out of it faster but you know what? I still left their house feeling more free than when I had come in. So, even though we are now in December and this post is long overdue, I am sitting here more and more grateful for parents who invest in my spiritual growth and who challenge me daily. I am thankful for the freedom I have in Christ and the confidence I have that HE is with me.
Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful! Let the Christmas season begin :)
A Bit About ME!
Hey friend! My name is Caren and I am so glad you stopped by! This blog is a bit of my corner on the internet where I share honest thoughts about my faith journey, fitness journey, doctor wife journey, and motherhood journey. ALL of it! The good bad and ugly! I pray that something I share encourages you today!