<![CDATA[Not Your Average Al - Rally the Troops]]>Thu, 27 Apr 2017 03:55:41 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Not It!]]>Fri, 04 Mar 2016 17:03:27 GMThttp://notyouraverageal.com/7/post/2016/03/not-it.htmlPicture
Remember the game of, “Not it,” from when you were little? Maybe your mother would say someone needed to take out the trash, and you would quickly exclaim, “Not it!” leaving your brother as, “It.” Or maybe, you were on the terrible other end of that. Your dad said it was time to do the dishes and both your sisters simultaneously yelled, “Not it!” At that point, your father turned to you, because you were, “It.” I’m now playing the adult version of that game, and “Not it!” is my new catch phrase. I even have this posted on my laptop screen so I won’t forget that I, indeed, am, “Not it!”

You see, I am, apparently, a control freak. I have the crazy belief that I’m in charge – of myself, of my life, of my children, of my future. You name, and I believe I can fix it. There’s just one flaw in this controlling nature of mine. I can’t fix everything. In fact, I’m not sure I can fix anything. There are many things I can’t even pretend to patch up. Yet, here I am, still believing I can fix it.

When I pray, I find myself saying things like, “God, please help me…..”

“Please help me fix it.”

“Please help me know what to do.”

“Please help me make a good decision.”

“Please help me guide him.”

“Please help me do the things I need to do.”

And the list goes on and on. On the surface, these prayers sound good. They sound like I’m asking for God’s guidance, and I am. However, the reality is, I’m asking God to fix it my way, on my terms and in my time.

“Help me, God.”

“I can do this, God, if you just help me.”

“How about if I drive and you just give me directions, God?”

“I know you’re really busy, so I’ll handle this one. Okay, God?”

“You don’t mind if we do things my way, do you God? After all, you’ve made me very smart.”

1 Corinthians 1:25 says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”

The reality is, I am not smarter than God. Without Him, I can’t fix anything. Without Him, I don’t even have my next breath. He is everything, and He is in control.

For me, praying, “Help me, God,” is a habit. I’ve always phrased my prayers that way. However, I’ve found that the most profound, powerful answers to my prayers have come when I relinquished that control and said, “God, I can’t.”

“God, I can’t do this alone. I need you.”

“God, I can’t make this decision. You make it for me.”

“God, I can’t fix this. Only you can.”

“God, I’m not it. It’s your turn.”

“Not it, God!”

Isaiah 40 sums it up nicely. It tells us God has no equal. Verse 14 says, “Has the Lord ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice?” Isaiah 40 ends in verse 31 with, “But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”



When I was younger, I had no idea what verse 31 meant. I remember wondering what people were waiting on and why they would need to find strength. I was clueless. Then, I lived life. Now, I get it.

I also did not understand Psalm 46:10a, “Be still and know that I am God.”

I used to believe this verse was telling me to sit still and think. This only made me feel guilty, because I’m really bad at being still. If I sit still, I fall asleep. I would beat myself up over the fact that I could not even be still and know. I do believe there is great value in just being quiet and thinking, praying and mediating. While this is something I can still work on, I don’t actually believe that’s what Psalm 46:10 is telling us. I believe God is saying, “You are NOT IT! Quit trying to fix everything. Be still, and let me handle this!”

“My child, cease striving. Stop trying. Quit stressing. I’ve got this!”

And to that, I reply, “Not it!”

I have a way of messing things up.  Things work out much better when God handles them. I am so thankful I have a God who is far bigger than me, worlds smarter than me and much more able to handle me than I am. God’s foolishness is still smarter than my smart.

When I can actually manage to let go of control, it feels so good. Life is so much better when God handles things for me. I am glad he allows me to look at life’s struggles and joyfully yell, “Not it!” God’s got this. I can rest.  -Al


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<![CDATA[Blessed Chaos]]>Sun, 31 Jan 2016 21:47:15 GMThttp://notyouraverageal.com/7/post/2016/01/blessed-chaos.htmlPicture
Last week, I had lunch with one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met. She and I have been friends for many years. And while I have grown bigger and more wrinkled year after year, her beauty has increased as time passed. She may have formed some wrinkles or grey hair and put on a few pounds too. I’m not really sure. I couldn’t see that past her beauty.

If you looked at her and did not know her, this lady might not look as beautiful to you as she does to me. She wears t-shirts and jeans (the “Mom” uniform). She doesn’t have any more time to fix her hair than the rest of us. She doesn’t wear make-up most of the time. She is vertically challenged. (She and I joke about this because she is 5 foot nothing, and I am a giant.) She would call herself chubby. (Though I’ve never noticed.) None of these things matter, because she is just so pretty.

You see, her beauty comes from inside. Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy,” and boy, does that describe this woman. She is radiant. Her joy is contagious. She is God’s child, and there is no doubt about that.

Let me give you a little history of this woman’s life. I won’t reveal everything, because, frankly, she doesn’t know I’m writing this. I’m not sure she would appreciate every detail of her life being put out there for the world (or at least the 10 people who read my blog…HA!) to see.

Let’s call this woman, “Helen.” This is not even close to her name, but Helen means, “Beautiful,” so it works.

Helen has three biological kids. All three of her kids have suffered medical issues of some kind or another. One was serious enough to need a wheelchair for a while. Another had a major, life-threatening illness at one point in her life and now has a major, life-altering autoimmune disease. The third does not have anything as serious but has had normal childhood ailments.

When I met Helen, she and her husband and kids were living in a very small house that had a lot of issues. (I did not see any issues, but she told me about them.) Her house was cozy and cute but small for a family of 5. Helen’s kids all reached teenager-hood (Teenager-dom? The years of death and dispair??), so the house grew even smaller.

If I had been Helen, at this point in my life, I would have probably just looked forward to when my kids were fully grown so they could get out of my small house and I could have room to breathe. I would have also looked at all the medical issues I had been through and thought, “Whew! Glad I survived that! Never again.” I’m selfish like that.

Helen, on the other hand, did not celebrate the light at the end of the tunnel of parenthood. Instead, she saw a need around her and decided to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Helen and her family started taking in foster kids. These children were in crisis and had nowhere else to go. They were damaged, traumatized and hurting. The first kids were very difficult as the family ended up getting attached to the kids right before they went home to their families. Then, something amazing happened.

Helen and her family decided to stick it out and try fostering again. Helen started having opportunities to adopt the kids she was fostering. She had the chance to give them a forever family. One after another, children came into Helen’s life. She prayed for God’s will to be done, and her beauty increased day by day. At some point, she wondered what exactly God had in mind for her, but she kept praying and kept following His will.

Today, Helen is the mother of blessed chaos. She has 12 children, and she is glowing. Her joy is contagious, and her resolve to do God’s will is astounding. She may possibly be one of the strongest, bravest women I have ever met.

Last week, as we sat at lunch, I asked how she was doing. I asked her if she ever longed for her past life of having “just” three kids. I asked if she wondered if she had made a mistake by taking in so many. Then, this beautiful creature in front of me gave me an answer that amazed me. It was at that moment that I saw just how lovely she really is.

Helen told me that she wondered what she had done with all her time before having a dozen children in her house. She said her life now felt whole. She said she hoped she was doing a good enough job of raising these babies and that she was not messing them up.

This woman took these children from nothing and gave them a family, and she wondered if she was doing enough. Bless her heart. (This also reminded me that we mamas never think we’ve done enough. Mama guilt is very real and very powerful.)

Helen talked about her babies, and I could feel the pride and love she has for each one. She gave up her life to raise these precious children, and she would not have it any other way. What a beautiful thing.

As I sat there listening, a verse kept going through my mind. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the LORD will be greatly praised.” Proverbs 31:30

I started thinking about myself. Do I listen to God? I mean, of course I read my Bible and go to church, but am I listening, truly listening, for what it is I’m supposed to be doing? Do I give my days to God and wait for him to direct them? Or do I rush about, living my life, hoping to fit God into my plans and my days?

How about you? Are you hearing God when he directs you? Do you live purposefully? Can you hear what God is telling you to do?

Teach me your ways, O LORD, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.” Psalm 86:11

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.” Psalm 143:10


I want to do God’s will. I want to hear his guidance. I want to be like Helen. I pray that I will listen and follow. I pray you will too.  -Al


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<![CDATA[The Day After the New Beginning...Seeking.]]>Fri, 02 Jan 2015 14:52:51 GMThttp://notyouraverageal.com/7/post/2015/01/the-day-after-the-new-beginningseeking.htmlPicture
Yesterday, I posted a blog about my New Year’s resolutions. I joked that my goal for the year was just to survive and to be true to myself. That is true, sort of, but it’s also not true.

I have big goals for this year.

I want to be healthy. I can’t say I want to lose XX number of pounds, because my body does not typically cooperate. Because of my cursed thyroid, my size is what it is. However, I can be healthier, even if I never lose a pound. (Oh, but, please, oh please, let me lose a pound!)

I want to be happier. I know that sounds like a strange goal, but it’s true. I want to do what I need to do to relieve stress and anxiety, so the depression that has been creeping into my mind doesn’t take over my life. The “happier” includes exercise (bleh!), mind control (on my own mind, not others – but that is a thought!) and simple stress relief activities. It includes aromatherapy and just being nicer to myself in general.

I want to be more purposeful in my days. In what I say, in what I do, in where I go and who I meet, I want to find a purpose. I want God to use me. I want to allow Him to use me.

I’ve got a lot to do!

As I sit here on January 2, wondering how to get started on everything, I have found myself overwhelmed. I want to make a healthy meal plan. I want to make a healthy exercise plan. Plan, plan, plan! I’m good at planning. The follow through? Well, let’s not talk about it.

As I was struggling to even begin to know where to begin, a thought went through my mind. I can’t help but think this was not my thought but God’s message to me. A phrase began repeating in my mind. It was in song form. If you know the song, it is about to be stuck in your mind, too. You’re welcome.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added until you. (Hallelu, hallelujah.)”

“Seek ye first.” Those words are easy to say (or in my case, sing), but they are so much harder to live by! I wake up in the morning, and I’m busy. I’m already thinking about work, thinking about what’s for dinner, thinking, thinking, thinking. It’s no wonder I don’t feel rested when I wake up, because I’m pretty sure I think all night long. This is evidenced by how many times I wake up and realize I was just editing in my sleep, just as I do for my job in real life.

“Seek ye first.” How would my days change if I put aside work, laundry and dinner, and I just looked for God? Do I even know where to look for His Kingdom?

“Seek ye first.” I pondered the actual verse, Matthew 6:33, and I realized I had just been given the answer to my quest for change in the new year.

-          If I look for God first, I can fill myself with His word instead of with the doughnuts and chocolate I sometimes use to sedate the skinny girl in me. Instead of turning to food to sedate myself, I can look to Him for comfort and satisfaction. Then, I would just use food to fill the physical hunger I have, and I would be much more likely to eat foods that will benefit my body. (Proverbs 27:7)

-          If I look for God first, I can do so by walking outside. This would give me a chance to get fresh air and exercise, both of which would help me be healthier. Since I’m low on vitamin D, the sunshine would do me some good, too. (Romans 1:20)

-          If I look for God first, I can relieve my stress and anxiety through prayer. Instead of worrying about the things I’m worrying about, I could truly turn them over to God. Then, I could allow myself to relax and take comfort that God is in control, so I don’t have to be. (John 14:1)

-          If I look for God first, I might just find my own purpose. I know He is in charge, and I know He has work for me to do. If I just pay attention, I might see all kinds of opportunities around me. Is He trying to use me to make all things work together for good? (Romans 8:28)

So, as much as I thought I was struggling to get a start on the new year, I’m not! If I can just first seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, He will take care of the rest.

God, Instead of helping me with my new year's resolutions, help me to seek you.  ~Al


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<![CDATA[Guest BLog: King of Kings vs. Queen of Pop]]>Sat, 25 Oct 2014 23:33:59 GMThttp://notyouraverageal.com/7/post/2014/10/guest-blog-king-of-kings-vs-queen-of-pop.htmlPicture
A Guest Blog Entry by FrappuccinoFangirl

“Pretty Hurts” Sung by Beyoncé

Mama said, you're a pretty girl

What's in your head it doesn't matter

Brush your hair, fix your teeth

What you wear is all that matters

Just another stage

Pageant the pain away

This time I'm gonna take the crown

Without falling down, down

Pretty hurts

Shine the light on whatever's worse

Perfection is the disease of a nation

Pretty hurts

Shine the light on whatever's worse

Tryna fix something

But you can't fix what you can't see

It's the soul that needs the surgery

Blonder hair, flat chest

TV says bigger is better

South beach, sugar free

Vogue says

Thinner is better

Just another stage

Pageant the pain away

This time I'm gonna take the crown

Without falling down, down, down

Pretty hurts

Shine the light on whatever's worse

Perfection is the disease of a nation

Pretty hurts

Shine the light on whatever's worse

Tryna fix something

But you can't fix what you can't see

It's the soul that needs the surgery

Ain't no doctor or therapeutic that can take the pain away

The pain's inside

And nobody frees you from your body

It's the soul that needs surgery

It's my soul that needs surgery

Plastic smiles and denial can only take you so far

And you break when the paper signs you in the dark

You left a shattered mirror

And the shards of a beautiful girl

Pretty hurts

Shine the light on whatever's worse

Perfection is the disease of a nation

Pretty hurts

Shine the light on whatever's worse

Tryna fix something

But you can't fix what you can't see

It's the soul that needs the surgery

When you're alone all by yourself

And you're lying in your bed

Reflection stares right into you

Are you happy with yourself

It's just a way to masquerade

The illusion has been shed

Are you happy with yourself

Are you happy with yourself

Yes

I’m sure many of you have heard this song, and I’m sure some of you haven’t. Whether or not you have or not the message is clear: pretty hurts. However, in Christ we know that we, “Have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (Colossians 3:10) In case you have forgotten, we were made in God’s image. God’s image. When I was younger, I thought that was pretty cool; now that I’m slightly more mature, I truly understand what that is saying. Now that I’ve been in this world for a while, sometimes I don’t even believe it. How could I, Mary Isabella Fraraccio, be made in the image of any god? Is He blind? No, because, “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see…’” (John 9:39) Does he know what I’ve done? I guess so because Psalm 139:1 says, “You have searched me, Lord, and you know me.” If I know God, and He knows me, how can He say He made me in His image?

Sia Furler (the main writer of this song) explained it all, clear and concise. It’s funny how everything comes back to God. Let’s take a moment to compare the words in this song to some things God as said through his word:

“Mama said, you're a pretty girl

What's in your head it doesn't matter

Brush your hair, fix your teeth

What you wear is all that matters”

                                Vs.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self…” (1 Peter 3:3-4)

“Just another stage

Pageant the pain away

This time I'm gonna take the crown

Without falling down, down”
Vs.

“For they cannot rest until they do evil; they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble…..But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.” (Proverbs 4:16, 19)

“Pretty hurts

Shine the light on whatever's worse

Perfection is the disease of a nation”

Vs.

“For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena.” (I Cor. 5:3)

 ““If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”” (John 16:18-19)

“for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23)

“Tryna fix something

But you can't fix what you can't see

It's the soul that needs the surgery”

Vs.

“On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’’’ (Matt. 9:35)

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:17)

“Blonder hair, flat chest

TV says bigger is better

South beach, sugar free

Vogue says

Thinner is better”

Vs.

“Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly…. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2: 16,23)

“Ain't no doctor or therapeutic that can take the pain away

The pain's inside

And nobody frees you from your body

It's the soul that needs surgery”

Vs.

““Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”” (Matt. 11:28)

““Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” (John 8:32)

“And you break when the paper signs you in the dark

You’re left a shattered mirror

And the shards of a beautiful girl”

  Vs.

“What the wicked dread will overtake them…” (Proverbs 10:24)

“And by that will, we have been made whole through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10)

“When you're alone all by yourself

And you're lying in your bed

Reflection stares right into you

Are you happy with yourself

It's just a way to masquerade

The illusion has been shed

Are you happy with yourself

Are you happy with yourself

Yes”

Vs.

“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…” (Matt 27:51)

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139:13-15)


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<![CDATA[Beads for Pearls]]>Mon, 13 Oct 2014 02:40:28 GMThttp://notyouraverageal.com/7/post/2014/10/beads-for-pearls.htmlPicture
There’s a sermon story I’ve heard in church a few times. You probably have too. This is the shortened version of it:

A little girl named Julie got $1 for her birthday. She went to the dollar store and picked out the prettiest string of beads her money could buy. She was so proud of those beads that she wore them with every outfit. She wore them day and night. She even wore them in the bath tub, because she did not want to take a chance of losing them by taking them off.

One day, Julie’s father came to her, and he had something behind his back. She asked him what he had, and he told her he would give it to her if she gave him her beads. Julie was distressed. She really loved those beads. “No, Daddy,” she said, “I’ll give you anything else, but I can’t give you my beads.” He walked away, not showing her what he had.

This went on for days. Every evening, Julie’s daddy would approach her, hands behind his back, and ask for her beads. Every night, Julie would refuse. She begged and pleaded and asked if there was anything else she could give him. She just could not part with those beads.

Finally, one night, Julie’s father found her sitting on her bed, crying. He asked her what was wrong. She held her beads in her hand, and she gave the string to him as she told him, “Daddy, you know I love these beads, but I love you more. If you want them that badly, there must be a good reason, so you can have them.” Julie’s father smiled as he took the beads. He pulled a blue velvet box out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Julie. Inside, she found a string of beautiful real pearls. He told her, “I saw how much you loved your plastic beads, and I thought you would love these even more.”

We are just like Julie. We hold on to things God has asked us to give up. What we don’t realize is, He has so much more planned for us. We make plans and try to keep them, even when it becomes apparent God has something else in store for us. Just like Julie, we think we know what is best.

This may sound like a random story for me to tell, but it popped into my head at church this morning. As I sat, with tears streaming down my cheeks, I realized, I am Julie.

To explain what I mean by this, I must first confess something to you, and if you did not already think I was weird, you certainly will when I finish telling you what I’m about to say.

For years now, I have had a fear of heaven.

Okay. I said it. It’s out there. I know. It’s crazy. I’m scared to go to heaven. If you think I’m crazy now, wait until I tell you the reason.

I am afraid to go to heaven, because I’ve been told I won’t be married there. Matthew 22:29-33 says: “Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.  At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.  But about the resurrection of the dead--have you not read what God said to you, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ He is not the God of the dead but of the living."  When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.”

So, here’s the thing. I am not complete without my husband. I know that sounds silly and cliché, but it’s true. My heart has belonged to this man since I was 15 years old. It’s more than half my life I’ve spend with him. I have kissed no other boy. I have loved no other man. Mr. Everything is my other half, and he is my better half. He absolutely completes me, and I would not be who I am or what I am without him by my side.

How can I possibly be happy in heaven if I am incomplete? I know, I know. I will be complete through Christ. In my head, I know that. In my head, I know God will take care of all this silliness, and I have nothing to worry about.

My heart feels differently.

I won’t even discuss the fact that I won’t be a mother in heaven. I can’t even go there. I’ll be a soppy mess of tears.

So, back to my original statement. I realized today in church that I am Julie. I am holding on to what I think is best for me. This life is beautiful to me, and it’s perfect for me. However, I can’t possibly know what God has in his blue velvet box. The only way I can see my true pearls is to hand over my dollar store beads to him.

Little by little, I’m getting there.

I trust Him.

I often echo the words of the boy’s father from Mark 9:24: “I believe; help my unbelief!”

If you ever see me crying in church and heaven is being discussed, you can know, without a shadow of a doubt, I am struggling to hand over my beads.

I’ll get there one day.

What are you holding on to? Won’t heaven be worth your beads too?

 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:1-3    -Al



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<![CDATA[Waiting]]>Tue, 13 May 2014 13:55:21 GMThttp://notyouraverageal.com/7/post/2014/05/waiting.htmlPicture
I just have to admit here that I am not a patient person. It’s true, and those of you who really know me would agree with this statement. I rush through life. I want things to go my way, and I want them to go my way now.

I used to read Isaiah 40:31 and wonder what in the world it meant. “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” I knew many people would name this verse as one of their favorite scriptures. I’ve seen it on t-shirts and keychains and Bible covers, but I had no idea why people were waiting on the Lord. I had no idea why this verse was a comfort to them.

A long time ago, I learned in Bible class about Sarah, Abraham’s wife. You probably know the story. The woman was old and tired. She had not been able to have any children but was now in the twilight of her years. God changed her name and told her she would have a baby. When the angels of the Lord said she would have a baby in the next year, Sarah laughed. The angel asked Abraham why Sarah had laughed, and she denied doing so. If you don’t know the story, it’s a good one. It starts in Genesis 15.

There are a few things I’ve always thought about this story. First, that would be my luck that I would lie about laughing, and the angel would call me out on it. Poor Sarah. She and I might be kindred spirits as we both seem to get caught in a pickle occasionally. And second, I would be horrified if, at age 90, I found out I was having a child. I just can’t imagine.

Then, the other day, as I listened to a sermon that included the details of Sarah and Abraham, another thought crossed my mind. Sarah had waited. She had waited on the Lord a very long time. As silly as it might sound, that had never occurred to me before. I had always focused on the “here and now” of the story of Sarah. It had not dawned on me that Sarah had experienced years and years and years of trying to get pregnant and failing. Bless her heart. She may have even had miscarriages, but she certainly faced the comments and disappointment from other people. She had waited her whole life, and just when she knew it was too late, the Lord answered her prayer. He answered the prayer she had probably stopped praying years ago, because at age 90, pregnancy was impossible. Or so she thought.

I waited a year to get pregnant with the Beetle and a year and a half to get pregnant with the Goose. Both of those waits seemed like an eternity. I can’t imagine waiting 70 more years!

Anywho, back to my first thought…waiting on the Lord.

Though my little family of four had experienced many struggles in life, I had never found myself waiting on the Lord. Perhaps, I should have waited instead of taking action on my own. Perhaps, I should have waited for guidance and answers, but I didn’t. I thought I had. I prayed and things happened, so I thought that was God’s answer. It might have been. I don’t know. I’m not sure whether those things were my answers or how God wanted things to turn out. You see, I wasn’t really giving the power to God to let him handle it. Instead, I would just solve it in on my own. However, a few years ago, I learned what it meant to wait.

In April, 2012, Mr. Everything was put in the hospital with really high blood pressure. It was scary-high.  The doctors sort of got it under control, but not really. They sent him home with instructions of what to do if it shot up again. That wasn’t very comforting.

Two weeks later, the storage building that housed our mobile pottery business burned down. The fire took all our equipment for pottery and all of Mr. Everything’s tools. He was a handyman, so losing his tools was a terrible loss. In one fire, we lost 2/3 of our income. Poof. Gone. We had already been surviving on much less that we ever thought possible, so for 2/3 of that to be gone was devastating.

Besides the comfort of prayer, our only comfort left was the fact that we would be receiving our income tax return very soon and that would carry us through. Then, a week after the fire, we got notice that my social security number had been stolen and someone had already taken our return. I looked around for the hidden cameras, but there weren’t any. This was my life.

Over the next several months, as we dealt with the little bit of insurance we had, we held on tight to God, and He carried us through. We did not starve to death. Our children did not go without. We were okay. How, I had I no explanation, except for through the grace of God.

As the months went by, other people began asking what we were going to do. They weren’t trying to be ugly or to frustrate us. It was just natural to them, as they were on the outside looking in, to think we would just get back to normal. Whatever normal was.

Meanwhile, I was in a daily struggle. I kept praying to God and turning my concerns over to him, but at the same time, I had no idea what we were going to do. People asked if we would re-start the business. I didn’t know. They asked if Mr. E would get a job. I didn’t know. They asked how we would support ourselves once the minuscule bit of insurance money ran out. I didn’t know. I found myself saying a silent prayer each time I was asked a question. In my mind, I would say, “Waiting on you, Lord. I’m waiting on you.”

For months, I was waiting on the Lord. I wanted Him to give us a clear answer of what we were supposed to do. I wanted a sign. I wanted to see clearly what my future was. The longer I waited, the more frustrated I got, but the longer I waited, the more I understood Isaiah 40:12. I had never waited before, but I sure was this time. I truly had no answers. I could not fix anything. I was paralyzed with the inability to do anything about the situation. It was too big for me. Thank goodness God was there.

Now, I’d like to tell you that after I waited a certain number of months, the Lord wrote my answer in the clouds in the sky, but that’s not true. Well, I guess, sort of, it is. There is an airplane that flies over this area often, and it writes messages in the sky. It writes, “God loves you,” and, “You + God = :).” I hate to break it to anyone else who has seen them in the past, but I’m pretty sure those messages were for me. Okay. I can share. They were for you too, but God definitely wrote them there for me. It was His way of telling me that, no matter what would happen next, as long as I was with Him, I could be happy. More importantly, He loved me, so I was going to be okay.

Other than my love notes, I have not really seen any clear signs from God. I’m still waiting. I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to be doing or not doing or saying or not saying. I don’t know where my life is going to take me. I thought we were supposed to live at a Bible camp and work, but I was clearly wrong about that. Now, I just don’t know. What I do know is, the longer I wait, the more joyous it will be when God answers me. I just hope I don’t end up 90 and pregnant.

 If you are waiting on the Lord, just know you aren’t alone. You and I are in the same boat. It has occurred to me that maybe this wait is the answer. There is no answer. Maybe you and I are learning what we need to and doing what we need to just by waiting and having patience. I don't know about you, but I’m pretty sure I needed a good dose of patience. Maybe this is God’s way of teaching me. I don’t know. What I do know, is, God is in control, and I’m still here. Waiting.     -Al


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<![CDATA[A Message to the Mother of My Children]]>Mon, 24 Feb 2014 13:49:23 GMThttp://notyouraverageal.com/7/post/2014/02/a-message-to-the-mother-of-my-children.html
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<![CDATA[The Truth About Homeschooling]]>Mon, 24 Feb 2014 13:48:03 GMThttp://notyouraverageal.com/7/post/2014/02/the-truth-about-homeschooling.html
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<![CDATA[Can We Be Righteous In the Sight of God?]]>Thu, 08 Aug 2013 21:26:26 GMThttp://notyouraverageal.com/7/post/2013/08/can-we-be-righteous-in-the-sight-of-god.html
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<![CDATA[Fake It 'Til Ya Make It: The Church Version]]>Thu, 20 Jun 2013 19:42:51 GMThttp://notyouraverageal.com/7/post/2013/06/fake-it-til-ya-make-it-the-church-version.htmlPicture
As I wrote my blog about how I have faked it until I made it in my past jobs (you can read that HERE), I realized that there is another area of my life that I have sometimes faked it.  When I say this, you may think badly of me, but sometimes, I have faked my Christianity.  Okay, now hear me out before you light your torch.  I want to explain.

I don’t mean that I have faked a belief in God.  I believe in God.  There have been moments that I questioned those beliefs, but then, I looked around and saw too much evidence in the world to think God wasn’t real.  In those times that I questioned Him, I was open and honest about that.  It happens.  All Christians question God at some point, and if they tell you they don’t, they might be fooling you or themselves.

When I heard, believed, repented, confessed and was baptized, I meant it.  There was nothing fake about that.

I mean that I have faked the desire to be a Christian.  I’ve been going to church three times a week since I was 15 years old.  I am ashamed to say how many of those times I really did not want to go.  Especially on Wednesday night, sometimes it’s hard to feel motivated.  I’m tired.  I’m stressed.  I’m 100 things behind on my to-do list.  Church just seems like it will get in the way!  It means I have to brush my hair (such a chore) and get in the car and go.  Sometimes, it’s tempting just to skip it.  Occasionally, I have skipped it, and every time I did, I regretted it.  However, almost always, I’ve gone anyway.

And you want to know a secret?  I never, ever regretted it when I went.  In fact, I came out of church feeling refreshed and ready to tackle that to-do list!  I’m not saying church is magical or anything like that, but there is definitely a power there.  Being with your church family and worshipping and learning about God together can give you a hope and a spirit that you can’t get on your own.

The writer of Hebrews knew what he was saying when he wrote Hebrews 10:25, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”  There is encouragement you can get at church that is inexplicable but real.  God did not tell us to go to church for His sake.  He told us to go for our sakes!  He knew what He was doing when He designed church, and if we follow that, we are uplifted and encouraged.

I’ve also faked it when it came to loving others.  There are days when I don’t want to be nice to anyone.  Just to smile is painful.  I don’t want to help others.  I want to drop the door on the person entering the building behind me.  I want to cut people off in traffic.  Sometimes, I have done that (although I’ve never dropped a door on someone on purpose…my southern upbringing won’t allow me to do that).  I have cut others off in traffic, and I regretted it.  I probably ruined that person’s day, and I felt bad about it.

On the days when I did not let my ugly attitude affect how I treated others, I never regretted that.  In fact, smiling at someone, holding a door open and allowing someone in front of me at the stoplight actually improved how I felt.  Before I knew it, I was speaking nicely and maybe even humming a tune.

Galatians 6:9 says, “So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up.”

Just like in my jobs through my life, I’ve had to fake it, I’ve had to do the same in my Christian walk.  If I gave up every time I felt like it, I would have quit a long time ago.  The Bible is clear about the fact that a Christian walk is not going to be easy.  In fact, in several places, Christianity is compared to a long race. 

Open your Bible and check out these verses:

Hebrews 12:11-13

Isaiah 40:29-31

I Timothy 4:8

I Corinthians 9:25-27

Hebrews 12:1

So, on days when you are ready to give up, don’t.  Remember that the Christian walk is a marathon and not a sprint.  If you aren’t feeling like much of a Christian and you are feeling tired, stressed and disenchanted, don’t give up.  You may not feel it right now, but keep trying anyway.  Follow my motto, “Fake it ‘til ya make it.”  Keep acting like a Christian even if you aren’t feeling like one, and eventually, you’ll feel like one again.   -Al


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