The Most Intimate Relationship

Our relationship with the Lord is the most intimate relationship we will ever have.  No one will ever love you more than He does.  He came to this earth knowing the price He would have to pay for us and loved us enough to pay that price.  He knows our deepest desires, thoughts, feelings and fears.  He loves us regardless of our biggest mistakes and failures. 

He knows we are infants and children who are seeking to learn and grow in order to become the person we were created and placed on this earth to become, while realizing that purpose for which He created us and what He has assigned each of us to accomplish for His kingdom.  Becoming a Christian does not mean we are to wake up suddenly converted into perfect beings, who are not allowed to ever make another mistake or experience another failure.  Becoming a Christian means being reborn a second birth as a child of God.  It means being an infant in our faith and learning, growing and maturing in His Word, His will and His ways.  It means not being perfect but seeking to grow and be Christ like, as much as we are each capable of being.

So many times over the years I’ve heard “You can’t do that and be a Christian”.  Making a mistake does not mean I am not a Christian.  Making a mistake as a Christian simply means that I am a child of God with the key word being ‘child’.  I am a child that is learning and growing and being at a different level of growth and achievement in my relationship with the Lord does not make me any less a Christian than anyone else. I don’t know of anyone who would expect an infant to master the skills of a toddler, or expect a toddler to master the skills of an adolescent.  Nor does our Heavenly Father expect us to suddenly become mastered Christians overnight.  Growing as a child of God is no different from growing as children.  Our Father doesn’t have these unrealistic expectations of us.  We don’t have these unrealistic expectations of our children nor does He have them for us.

I think as Christians we all too often compare ourselves to others and begin the process of self-condemnation all over again because we have not yet reached the level of growth as other Christians may have obtained.  That’s one thing that prevented me from writing my book for seven years.  I wasn’t as ‘matured’ as this person or that person and all those around me would condemn me and put me down.  I also think it is one reason that people don’t claim to be Christians because they compare themselves to others and feel they don’t measure up.  Don’t compare yourself to anyone.  Your relationship with the Lord is yours and yours alone.  It is the most intimate relationship you will ever have.  I hope you understand that.  Read His Word, learn and grow in Him.  Spend time in prayer with Him by simply talking to Him.  If there is something that you feel He expects of you that you’re not capable of doing, ask Him for His help.  Seek Him.

He is patient, He is forgiving and He is kind.  He loves you and wants only the best for you.  He died on the cross for you and paid the ultimate price for you.  He has promised to deliver you from the fire.  He has assured us that His plans for us are to prosper us and not cause us harm.  All He wants is for us to accept Him, seek Him, grow in Him, love Him and be obedient to Him.  It is my desire that if you know Him you will desire more of Him and seek Him.  If you do not know Him it is my desire that you will come to know Him.  My relationship with Him is the most intimate relationship I will ever have.  I pray your relationship with Him will be your most intimate relationship as well.

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Troubles Times

I’ve reached a point where I don’t like to watch the news because it can be so depressing but we can’t be oblivious to what is going on around us in our world today.  Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with the death toll of the war in Afghanistan reaching a new high mark, a revolution in Egypt spreading unrest in the Arab world, Gaddafi’s son’s warnings of civil war as unrest spreads in Libya, an uprising in Iran, Bahrain joining many other Arab countries in demanding democracy, etc., etc., etc., reminds of things I’ve read and heard regarding wars and rumors of wars in the last days. 

I reflect over the past couple of years and think of the natural disasters the world has experienced with flooding and earthquakes. Earthquakes alone have caused so much destruction and taken so many lives.  The Sichauan Earthquake in China on March 12, 2008 claimed an estimated 68,712 lives with another 18,392 missing.  The earthquake that struck Haiti in January of 2010 claimed an estimated 316,000 and is considered one of the ten most deadly natural disasters in history. Now the earthquake that recently shattered Christchurch, New Zealand with the death toll rising.  Matthew 24:7 says there will be earthquakes in various places in the last days.

World Bank recently reported that food prices increased an astounding 29 percent in 2010.  The soaring food prices are leading to a dangerous situation that can send millions into poverty.  Food riots have already been reported in the Middle East.  The rising food prices are reportedly due to floods in Australia, drought in Russia and crop failure in China.  We in America are not exempt from famine.  Many of us Americans are more susceptible to living like those in a third world country now more than ever with the unemployment rate reaching all-time highs due to a recession.  With all the job losses and foreclosures Americans are experiencing situations in life like my generation has never seen. Oil prices have reached an all-time high and our fuel prices are creating a financial burden for many.  I think the only thing that prevents us from equaling The Great Depression of 1930’s is unemployment insurance. 

 These are troubled times we are living in today and every time I hear another tragic report on the television I’m reminded of the prophecies of the last days and can’t help but feel we’re living them. Granted Matthew 24:36 tells us “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”.  However Jesus did speak about the last days on the Mount of Olives in  Matthew 24:1-14 “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

I certainly don’t claim to know when Jesus is coming back but I do know I want to be ready for Him when he comes.

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Hope, Expectation, Faith and Belief

I have a habit of asking the Lord to lead me to what He would have His word say to me as I take my Bible and randomly open it to read it each day.  A couple of days ago I opened it  to Matthew Chapter 8 and read the story of the centurion whose servant boy was lying paralyzed at his house and in intense pain.  The Lord told the centurion that He would go to the boy and restore him.  The centurion told Jesus that he was not worthy or fit to have Him come under his roof, but if Jesus would only speak the word his servant boy would be cured.  Jesus replied to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.”

I have spent the past few days pondering hope, expectation, faith and belief.  The definition of hope is to wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment. Romans 8:24-25 “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?” Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  The definition of expectation is eager anticipation of something wished for. So, expectation is a step beyond hope. Romans 8:19 “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”  The definition of faith is belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence and is synonymous with belief. Hebrews 11:1 “Now, faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.” The definition of believe is to have firm and unquestioning faith to accept something as true.  Matthew 8:13 “Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go and it will be done just as you believed it would.” And the servant was healed at that very hour.”

I spent the majority of my weekend ponding this and wondering why it was in the Bible that so many asked Jesus to perform miracles and they were granted immediately yet, I ask for miracles and it seems I spend so much time waiting for God.  Ecclesiastes 3:17 tells me that God has an appointed time for everything; every purpose and every work that He has planned for me and Psalm 46:10 tells me “Let be and be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations!  I will be exalted in the earth!

I realized that though I have hope for better things in my future such as my husband to be able to come home to be with us; and though I expect the Lord to make a way for that to happen; and though I have faith that He has a plan for us; I had not truly BELIEVED with all my heart and soul that it IS going to happen and instead have been very fearful of what the future MAY hold in store for us.  I now BELIEVE with my whole heart and soul that the Lord will answer my prayers based on my faith for the plans and purpose He has for me; as I await His timing expecting great things in regard to those things I hope for.  May God bless each of you today.

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I Am Not Alone

Usually I awake in the morning with all these thoughts I want to share with you, yet this morning I was at a loss for words.  On the way to take Joshua to ‘school’ I heard Mercy Me’s song “Word of God Speak”, “Finding myself at a loss for words, and the funny thing is its okay.  The last thing I need is to be heard; but hear what you would say.  Word of God speak; would you pour down like rain; washing my eyes to see your majesty.  To be still and know that you’re in this place; please let me stay and rest in your holiness.”

While listening to this song I was reminded of all the loneliness I’ve felt over the course of the past fifteen months that Steve has been in Afghanistan. I know that though Steve is not with me physically he carries me in his heart as I carry him in mine.  I realized that though I may be lonely, I am certainly not alone. I’m fortunate to have the support of a wonderful group of women known as “The DCC Sisterhood” and John 16:32 tells me “Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me”.   

I listened to the lyrics of this song, “To be still and know that you’re in this place; please let me stay and rest in your holiness”.  I close my eyes and imagine my Heavenly Father looking down on me with a comforting and loving smile, taking me in His arms and holding me close to Him in the warmth, comfort, peace and safety of His loving arms. How wonderful it is to take time to in vision my Heavenly Father holding me in His arms giving me rest, a peaceful rest unlike any other.  Suddenly the loneliness doesn’t seem so unbearable.   

Dealing with your husband working and living in the middle of a war zone can certainly take its toll on you.  Being left behind to take care of the home, the children and the day to day functions can be exhausting.  If your husband isn’t in the middle of a war zone there are so many other situations in our lives that can be very stressful.  Sometimes you feel that no one in the world understands what you’re going through.  Maybe no one in the world understands, but I promise you our Heavenly Father understands and He doesn’t want to see us hurt any more than we want to see our own children hurt.

Spend some time with our Heavenly Father today.  Close your eyes and envision Him holding and comforting you.  Feel His love, His peace and His understanding today.  Find some rest in His holiness and know that He loves you and wants good things for you and know “I am not alone”.  God bless you!

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Stepping Out Ahead of God

Seven years ago the Lord placed the desire in my heart to write a book sharing my life experiences with others to give them hope and encouragement.  To let others know that there is no sin too great for His love and forgiveness.  Perhaps someone would read it and it give them hope for another day, prevent someone from committing suicide or maybe even help them accept the Lord as their savior. For a long time I listened to Satan telling me that this was my idea alone and not from God because it was silly of me to think anyone would be interested in hearing anything I had to say and that my family and those who know me would think I was being silly.  How could my ego be so super inflated to think that God would have such a huge assignment for me?

Over the years that desire has never left me.  When I would pray for God to reveal His purpose to me He would always remind me of the task He had given me.  I realized recently that I had been running from it hoping He would reveal something else to me, something that I would feel I was actually capable of doing.  I’m reminded of all the times I’ve heard, “Don’t look at yourself and your lack of ability, instead look to the Lord and what He can accomplish through you” and “It’s through the weakest and the least of us that He can reveal Himself”.

I have no writing experience and was extremely reluctant to start this blog but finally decided to submit and surrender and set it up and begin writing.  I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding it is and the joy I feel when I see that someone has signed on to follow my blog, to see the number of views increase, to read the comments on my Facebook page regarding a post, to see someone share it on their Facebook page for their friends to read it also and to know that the Lord has used me to share something with someone to help them that day.  I pray that the Lord will never let pride build up in me because I certainly don’t have much of anything in my life to be proud of and I know it is NOT me and my words but Him working through me giving me the words and I can’t thank Him enough for that.

I told you in a previous blog post that after Steve went to Afghanistan I stopped going to church, stopped reading my Bible and other than occasional comments had stopped communicating with the Lord and how He had revealed to me that I had been pouting with Him for sending Steve to Afghanistan.  One day last week I went to pick Joshua up from daycare ‘school’ and was talking to Lorraine, the lady who owns the daycare and I shared with her what I felt the Lord had revealed to me.  During our conversation I discovered that she and her husband attend the same church Steve and I had been attending.  Suddenly I felt an amazing desire to return to church.

I attended the service at this church Sunday morning and felt the pastor was talking directly to me.  He preached on how the Lord calls us by name and though there may be ten Marys in the room you know when it’s you that He’s calling.  I sat there thinking, “Yes, how many times have I heard that quiet voice say, Alecia….?”  He also referenced how the Lord asks questions and I thought, “Yes…with questions that so often seem to provide answers”.  He talked about how a lack of faith is a sin and how we tend to take things into our own hands instead of waiting on the Lord such as the story of Abraham and Sarah and how God had promised them a child but they stepped out ahead of God and took things into their own hands.  Oh how well was the pastor talking to me because stepping out ahead of God and getting myself into terrible messes has certainly been the story of my life.  He also talked about those in the Bible that had gotten themselves into terrible situations and God interceded and called them by name.  How wonderful to know that God is in control and no matter how big of a mess we may make of our lives He has the ability to make it all work out for the good.

During the alter call Sunday morning Pastor Chase said that he could sense a broken heart in the congregation.  I knew he was talking about me.  He walked around the congregation coming directly to me.  He took my hand and all I can really remember him saying is that he could feel the Holy Spirit all over me.  I stood there trembling and cried feeling so much peace and so loved.  I went to the alter and surrendered to Lord for Him to use me as He will to fulfill His purposes.

I left church that morning and was having a conversation with my DCC Sister, Donna Phillips and shared what had happened in church that morning with her.  I also shared with her that I had realized that I had been sitting on the fence as a closet Christian where it was safe and I wasn’t judged.  The main thing that had held me back was taking that step over into committing myself to coming out of the closet as a Christian and living my life in such a way as to be a light unto the world. 

I was reading Hallee Bridgeman’s testimony on her website the other day and she said she had been doing all the things right as a Christian but realized that she wasn’t actually living her life for God.  Those were such profound words for me.  “Living my life FOR God”.  I realized that is what we are called to do, live our lives for God, not for ourselves.  The flesh is so selfish!  We want to live for ourselves.  One thing I do realize though is that living my life for God instead of myself will certainly be more fulfilling and rewarding.

I know what the Lord has called me to do and now that I’ve committed myself to do it, wish it would happen yesterday, I pray I never again step out ahead of God.  Please sign on to follow my posts. Please share them with your friends.  Please make comments and interact on here.  I can’t tell you how much your encouragement and your support means to me.  Please pray with me that the Lord will use me for His purpose and work through me to help others.  Please pray for me that I will never step out ahead of God again.  God bless you!

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I Know the Plans I Have for You

This morning I awoke to the following beautiful email from my husband:  “I hope you’re resting well.  You know sometimes everything seems so dark; I almost want to give up sometimes.  Yet I see a light at the end of this long tunnel.  The light seems so far away some days and then there are days that it seems closer.  When I get down, I think of you and I realize why I am here.  The Lord gives me strength to keep going and you give me a purpose to go on.  You and Joshua let me know that I have a reason to go on and do my best.  Life has never been easy and I realize it’s what you make it.  I have realized you just have to deal with today and take the good with the bad.  When things are going bad or I feel down, I think of you.  I love the talks on the phone and the emails but most of all I enjoy just being with you.  Joshua is such a joy in my life.  There are no words to express how I feel about him.  He is my boy and I hope we do a great job of raising him.  I just want to tell you that you are the best and thank you for all you do for us as a wife to me and a mother to the kids.  I love you and miss you. Stephen”

I read that email and felt so blessed and fortunate to have a husband who was willing to take the time to share such beautiful words with me.  I regretfully must admit that when I woke up this morning I wasn’t this shining ray of light and hope.  My reply was not very pretty at all.  My reply in short (because not much of it is worth repeating) was basically “I’m glad you can see that light at the end of the tunnel.  I just wish I could figure out which tunnel you’re in so I could see that flicker of light also.  I’m so confused about what to do.  I have no idea what to do because I have no idea where we’re going to be.  Feeling we’re flying by the seat of our pants on a wing and prayer hoping to find something (a job) between here and Florida when you’re at home on R and R is driving me nuts.  I guess I’m the one with a bad attitude this morning.  I know it will all work out eventually.  RIGHT NOW  I feel like screaming and throwing a temper tantrum like a child.  One day at a time, huh?”  ENOUGH OF THAT!

Afterwards, I was consumed with regret for sending that e-mail to him.  He is the one over there making the sacrifices, living in horrible conditions, working 12 to 15 hour days seven days straight for four to five months at a time, he’s the one away from home missing out on so much of our lives and I’m here with all of the conveniences of home.  My only sacrifice is missing him.  He’s the one who needs encouragement and uplifting, yet I’m acting like a child who can’t have her way.  I WANT WHAT I WANT AND I WANT IT NOW!!!!!

In “Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings” by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996): “Patience is a virtue. The ability to wait for something without excessive frustration is a valuable character trait.”  Yes!  Patience is a virtue!  However, patience is not one of my stronger characteristics.  One would think with all the lessons I’ve encountered through the course of my life I would have mastered it enough to be an example to others.  Yet it seems to be an ongoing lesson in my life. I Timothy 6:11 “But as for you, O man of God, flee from all these things; aim at and pursue righteousness (right standing with God and true goodness), godliness (which is the loving fear of God and being Christlike), faith, love, steadfastness (patience), and gentleness of heart.” Amplified Version

James 1:3-4 “Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.  But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.”  Amplified Version  At least I know when I have finally mastered patience it will be a “thorough work” in my life.  Who knows it may take my entire lifetime to master it!  I’m sure it will!

Steve has been working in Afghanistan since November of 2009.  After he arrived there the company he was working with lost their contract and he signed a contract with another company in March of 2010.  We had hoped he could come home for good in March of this year but because he has not been able to secure a job stateside leaves us unsure of what the outcome will be when he comes home in April.  He did sign another contract for another year, but our hope is that he will be able to secure a job stateside while he is at home on R and R and won’t have to return.  I realize I should be grateful for the fact that in the event he is unable to secure a job here he will at least be able to return to Afghanistan and continue to provide for our family.  This journey is just one that I’m so tired of.  I want my husband to be at home with us and to be a part of our daily lives.  I just miss him so much and the child in me wants to throw a temper tantrum because I want what I want and I want it now.

Several years ago I took a personality profile along with the employees at work.  When the results came back in we were all amazed at the results.  We actually read the profiles and could identify who the profile belonged too.  My profile identified me as the “Strategic Planner”.  I have to have my own workplace, I don’t like interruptions or distractions, I like to plan each project from beginning to end identifying each step of the process to completion, I hate flying by the seat of my pants and winging it and am agitated by those who fit that profile, I certainly don’t like the ‘unknowns’ of any given situation, I don’t like surprises therefore I am always trying to anticipate what might go wrong and how to overcome it before it ever goes wrong.  Therefore, knowing the goal is for Steve to be able to stay stateside when he comes home in April without any concrete job offers, taking this on a wing and a prayer, flying by the seat of our pants, not knowing if he will have to go back, where he may find an offer, where we may be living, etc., is DRIVING ME NUTS and has me in a state of complete confusion.  I Corinthians 4:33 tells me that God is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order.  I know that my confusion is self-inflicted because of my impatience and wanting answers and solutions NOW.

I walked out onto my balcony this morning and said, “Oh Lord I just wish you would let me know where you want me to go and what you want me to do.”  He said to me, “Alecia if I were to reveal my plans to you before their time what would be left for you to take on faith?”  I smiled and said, “Yes Lord, you are right but you know this isn’t easy for me. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to swim up a waterfall because the waiting and the unknown seem to go against every grain of me.”  The Lord replied to me, “Be patient my child and know that I AM GOD.  Have I not revealed to you that my plans for you are to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.  I know the plans I have for you.  Wait on me without fear, concern or despair.  Walk in faith and trust in me.”  I suddenly felt a sense of peace.  Thank you God for loving me and carrying me through this.  Thank you for not giving up on me.  Please continue to carry me through this and help me to grow in my faith and to trust you completely. 

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My Strength is in the Lord

I usually awake to an email from Steve every morning telling me how his day is going, what the weather is like, asking about everyone at home and telling me how much he loves and misses me.  I love waking up to those emails.  They serve as such a comfort to me knowing that at the time he sent it he was okay.  Each email and each phone call provide a little more comfort and a little more strength to make it through until he emails or calls again.  That’s how this lifestyle is; you have to take it one day at a time, one segment at a time, one moment at a time and sometimes one breath at a time. 

I commented on my Facebook page this morning that I hate some of the thoughts that cross my mind when I wake up without an email or when the expected phone call doesn’t come.  I also realized how different those thoughts that run through my mind are from the thoughts that may run through the mind of a woman whose husband is not working in the middle of a war zone.  My fears are regarding his well-being, wondering if there has been an attack, if he has been injured or killed.  Naturally, I try to put those thoughts out of my mind and console myself by offering other explanations such as “Perhaps he was busy and just didn’t have the time” or “The weather has been bad and their communication systems are not very dependable, perhaps he couldn’t get a signal to send an email or maybe the phones are down”, “I’ll just WAIT until I hear from him”.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many women would be strong enough to handle a situation such as that.  One of the other ladies whose husband is over there also commented “We are so strong and most of the times we don’t even realize how strong we are.”  One thing I’ve noticed is that most of the women whose husbands are over there have faith in the Lord.  I don’t think it’s through our own abilities that we endure this experience but through the Lord’s strength He provides us that we are able to endure it.  To my Deployed Civilian Contractor (DCC) Sister’s I will say this:  When the day seems so lonely and unbearable and you’re wondering how in the world you’re going to get through it, look to Lord.  Psalm 18:1-2 “I love you, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” NIV also: Psalm 28:7 “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”

I watch the news and see the dismal reports of the economy with unemployment rates and foreclosure rates.  I realize that I am so blessed to have such a strong, responsible, loving and courageous husband.  Not many in comparison to the number of men in this world would be willing to make the sacrifices that my husband is willing to make for the sake of his family.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate, respect, admire and love my husband for the sacrifices he makes for us. I thank God for blessing me with such a wonderful husband and I thank God for His strength which sustains me because it is certainly not my strength but His that gets me through each day.  May God bless each of you and the great men and women, military and civilian who are making such tremendous sacrifices for each of us!

By the way!  After I began writing this Steve called and said that he had just been extremely busy and didn’t have the time to send an email.  Who knows perhaps the Lord allowed me to experience this today because He wanted to say something through me to help someone out there.  God bless you!

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