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Safe with God

My ” one little word” this year is REST.. I may have shared that in an earlier post. So I’ve been spending time contemplating the meaning of that word and asking God to help me enter His rest..

As a result of this journey with that word, I started thinking about feeling safe. For me, it is all connected. I can only rest when I feel safe. Makes sense doesn’t it? So am I safe with God? This topic opens up a can of worms for me. It is all related to that famous quote from C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. You probably know the one I am referring to, it is a reference to Aslan, ” He’s not safe, but He is good.” Many writers have taken off in one direction with those words..talking about how we make God too small and put Him in a box so we feel safe with our image of Him. I understand their point, but there is something else to consider.

God is not in a box and He doesn’t fit with our preconceived ideas and He is much bigger and more mysterious than we ever imagine. But at the same time, we are safe with Him. Yes safe. He cares for us and we can run to Him every time we feel threatened by people or circumstances. He wants us to feel safe. There is proof of this in the Bible..over and over again He says ” do not be afraid.” That tells me He wants us to feel protected and cared for and to know that we are always safe as long as we cling to Him and call on Him continually.

So.. I am learning to rest..feeling safe and secure with my God. How are you doing? Remember His goodness and relax if you can..knowing that He has you right next to Him.. He is keeping an eye on you.. watching your back.. You are SAFE with Him.

“This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.” ( psalm 91:2)

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“Comfort, comfort my people..

..says your God” in Isaiah 40:1. He is the comforter and He wants to make us into those who are able to comfort others. It comes through the trials, tests, waiting, and wondering. As we walk with Him through experiences we never imagined would happen.. He does something deep in us.

We are taken to places of grief and suffering that we did not know existed. We wonder if there has been some kind of mistake. Where is God in all this? Has He left us in an unbearable place? No..He is right there with us in the midst of the storm. He holds our heads above water as we feel it rising all around us.

He is the author of the great story that we are living in and there are no mistakes in the script. He allows us to be wounded and then binds up the wounds so we are able to help the hurting people who come into our lives. His purposes are higher and greater than our own.

So our comfort zone is not His highest priority..our hearts and our character matter deeply to God. He doesn’t punish us..but He does stretch us, teach us, and prepare us so we can truly become His people in this broken world.

If you are in a season of sorrow and struggle right now..Watch and wait until God comes for you..showing your His great unending love for you as you trust Him. He is faithful.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”     2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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Fresh Start..

The beginning of the  year is an opportunity for a fresh start. I’m not writing about New Years resolutions or a list of all the things that I want to accomplish in 2014. What I need right now is a new way to look at the same old difficult things. When the clock struck 12 on Dec 31st, I did not leave my struggles back in 2013. Many of the difficulties of last year are continuing right into January.

So I am taking some steps toward living through the hard things without losing my emotional balance..One focus I have for this year was given to me by a good friend. She purchased a workshop for me called “One little word.” It gives me an opportunity to choose a word and focus on it throughout the year..creating a scrapbook and whatever other means I want to use to get that word inside my heart.

My word is ” REST”. I’ve heard that word for years now..coming to me from the heart of God. It seems unobtainable because of the trials that life continues to bring. Yet the Lord promises us rest and there are many references to it throughout the Bible. So I am going to throw myself into the challenge of learning to rest in all things.. to rest in the Lord.

I hope by the end of this year I can say with confidence..REST  is available and I am experiencing it in a deeper way than ever before. If you are interested in taking this workshop, it is available on this website.http://aliedwards.com/

Let’s trust God to bring us our word and to take that word and take it deep into our minds, emotions, body, and spirit this year.

Then Jesus said ” come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

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He is truly ahead of us..

Today I was realizing in a new way that God is truly ahead of us on the road of life. He is paving the way for us and He knows exactly what will happen to us and when. His perfect plan is unfolding a day at a time and He continues to lead us as long as we want to follow Him and trust Him with all our doubts and fears.

These worries and anxieties spring from our desire to be in control and to understand the way God does things..something that is impossible. He tells us that “his ways are not ours.” Yet we continue to use our finite minds to understand the finite. We can’t do it.

So as we  follow Him and He asks us to do things that seem risky, we can remember that it is part of the larger story that God is writing for our lives. He doesn’t explain why to us..He asks us to follow His lead and to join Him in what He is doing.  Later He may reveal how it all fits together in ways we could never imagine.

I have developed a fondness for the mystery of our faith. When God gives me even tiny glimpses of how all of our stories intersect and the great plan He has for each of us.. I find myself amazed over and over again.

Our great God has everything under control..our part is to trust and obey. To seek Him and to believe in His goodness even when we see through a glass darkly. He will not fail or abandon us. He is for us and with us during every dark season and promises to bring us out into the light again.

Live fully today trusting Him to unfold your future..He is already there.

“I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.”
Isaiah 58:11

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Walking the labyrinth

My husband discovered a labyrinth near our house by viewing a nearby park on Google Maps. We were walking in this beautiful park and found some trails that we did not know about. He was researching and suddenly found that there was a short hike to a labyrinth that was in the parking lot of an Episcopal church. We visited the church and walked the labyrinth (actually half of it) with our grand kids about a week ago. We were surprised that they knew what it was.. and of course excited that they could actually see one in real life. Later I found out that my daughter (who was away on a retreat) was walking a labyrinth herself .. near the retreat center.

Yesterday Steve and I did the hike to our labyrinth and walked the other half. We met the rector of the Episcopal church and had a wonderful conversation about the church, the labyrinth, and lots of other things. God blessed us through the whole experience.

After reflecting on the presence of the labyrinth over the last week, I’ve come to believe that all of life is exactly that.. one long labyrinth. We walk along and suddenly there is a turn and then we find ourselves going back the way we came..more turns and once again we are on the path..finally we actually make it to the end. It seems like we are going over old territory..like we may never find out way out and then suddenly we see light at the end of the tunnel. Our journey is confusing.. but we are on the path and if we just persevere we will reach our destination.

Here are some pictures of our hike and the labyrinth. Wherever you are on your journey.. I pray that God will reveal the next step and that you will continue to follow Him on this winding road all the days of your life.

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Riding the waves..

This morning I saw a picture of what life has been like lately and I wanted to share it with you. Life has been like being at sea in the middle of a storm. Like all storms, there are moments when the sea is still  and moments when the waves threaten to rise up and sink the boat..and everyone on it. This image reminds me of the story in the Bible where Jesus calls Peter to walk on the water.

We all have times when we have to keep our focus.. no matter how threatening our circumstances become. The key for us is the same as it was for Peter.. Keep your eyes on the Lord and don’t be afraid. It is critical that we continue to look to Him even when the giant waves come down and break over our heads. On the calm days when the storm seems to be still..we need to breathe and thank Him for His goodness and for the reprieve.

He is our stability in the storm.. our rock and the one who is in control.. the storms cannot happen without His permission and He knows when it is time for it to move past us and time to restore the still waters. Remember the end of this passage? Jesus reached out his hand to Peter and together they climbed into the boat! Then those in the boat worshiped Him.

Lord.. you are the one who reaches for us as we lose faith and begin to fall. Our eyes are on you as you steady us and bring us safely into the boat. We need you Lord and we worship you..

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In the fog..

About a week ago we visited the Sonoma coast area and went for a long walk along the cliffs above the beach. We started out in the mid afternoon and as we walked the fog began to settle all around us. Soon it was like a shroud that came in and made it impossible to see much of anything but the path in front of us.

As we were walking I kept thing that it was a visual picture of the very experience we were having with the Lord. We know we are on the right path yet we are unable to see much beyond the next few steps. The fog is thick .. keeping us from seeing anything that will happen in the future. There was a strange beauty in this foggy scene..not the type that is so obvious on a sunny day with blue skies and white puffy clouds or the amazing view of the foamy white waves breaking on the shore below us. There was a subtle beauty that was expressing itself in the grey mist all around us.

It was food for thought for me. Here we were in this place knowing that on a different day we would have seen all those things I just wrote about. But God brought us out there on this type of day..to be in the fog.. to be with Him. Later as I thought through all this.. I realized that He was in that fog with us..guiding us down the path. One day soon we will see those blue skies and the sparkling water. For now..it is time to take His hand and keep walking.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

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The next step..

My husband and I are taking a step of faith right now. God has been working with us for the last 11 years..preparing us to move forward with Him. We’ve been praying and asking Him to direct our steps and make the path clear. This process has been going on very intently for the last few years. I never want to move ahead with knowing that God is leading..so we’ve had to wait for His direction.

Yesterday we published our new website and I wanted to share it with you. If you have been reading this blog , you know that I am a pastoral counselor. I’ve worked with many women over the years .. listening to their struggles with their marriages. In our area, there are very few believers and few resources for the Christian community. My counseling practice was born out of this need. When I was younger and struggled intensely.. I was unable to find the help I need. Later..God said to me..you become the help.

So here we are again..I don’t know where to send people who need couples counseling..and God is speaking again. We are offering that service and believing that the Lord will bring the right people to us in His time.

Our new website is marincounselor.com if you want to take a look.

“See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”

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Unchanging Grace

That is what I experienced in the last couple days..God’s unchanging grace. We are going through an unexpected trial right now ( are they ever expected!) and I had a very bad day yesterday. I felt like the grace of God was not to be found..I was left with my own raw emotions. It was not a pretty picture. Old angry feelings emerged..scenes from the past haunted me..I could not find God. I felt so alone.

Thankfully I had the presence of mind to cry out and ask God for faith and encouragement..even though I was angry at Him for allowing these circumstances. Of course He was right there and even before I went to sleep I began to sense the grace again..the encouragement and the hope that I thought was lost.

This small experience was enough to remind me that I need Him every single moment and that there is no place to go during the trial except straight to Him..even with all the anger and unbelief. He does not change. His heart is the same and He is not at the mercy of His feelings..because His love for us is much deeper than anything we understand.

I woke up this morning with a scripture that God has given me over and over again..He gave it to us at our wedding and it is a promise that I hold on to with all my heart. I hope it brings encouragement to you today..  He is our redeemer and His promises are forever.

Here it is:

“The Lord says, “I will give you back what you lost
    to the swarming locusts, the hopping locusts,
the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts.
    It was I who sent this great destroying army against you.
 Once again you will have all the food you want,
    and you will praise the Lord your God,
who does these miracles for you.
    Never again will my people be disgraced.
 Then you will know that I am among my people Israel,
    that I am the Lord your God, and there is no other.
    Never again will my people be disgraced.”

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Excavating

If you’ve been reading my blog.. you know that my passion in life is to see God bring healing to His people. As a counselor.. there is nothing more important to me than being a part of this deep work that He is doing through the Holy Spirit. For the last year I’ve been in a season of grief and healing..yes the two often go together. When we grieve God has an opportunity to go deep into our hearts and bring up things that we might never look at under other circumstances. I would go so far as to say that without grief, the healing really isn’t complete.

When God opens a wound from the past.. there are emotions that become jarred loose and we find ourselves face to face with our losses. Every life is full of them. The older we get, the more losses we experience..it is inevitable. I have some very deep wounds from the 25 years I spent in an abusive marriage. When it was over, 14 years ago, I began to grieve and unravel my past. Recently God has been excavating some remaining emotions from that time.

He is going deep into the recesses of my heart and pulling out old memories and the feelings that are connected to them. It is a painful process and even more so since so much of it is happening in the middle of the night. I imagine because it is a time when I am quiet and not busy with life. So I am sleep deprived but looking forward to the fruit that is going to come from this season of healing. As I work with my counseling clients.. I am constantly reminded by the Lord that I am only His instrument and their healing comes from His hand.

“The wounded healer is a phenomenon that occurs between the healer and the one receiving the healing. Psychologist Carl Jung used the phrase to describe experiences in the relationship between the counselor and their patient, where the counselor would examine themselves and experience depths of their own pain, in order to probe, understand, and heal the pain of their patient. Jung expressed that the experience was entirely necessary to the healing process, as well as warned of its many dangers.”

Jesus is our wounded healer..the one who enables us to become the same for those He brings into our path.