Thursday, August 29, 2013

Life Interrupted

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When I took the picture above, I was aiming to get a shot of the alpacas that stood just on the other side of the fence.  I thought I had held the camera in the perfect spot in between the links of the fence to be able to capture the image that lay beyond, but apparently the focus was all wrong because this is what I got instead.  My perfect shot was interrupted by the fence that stood in my way…or was it?

Last week, in my post “#YestoGod No Matter What,” I shared about how my computer crashed for the second time since saying Yes to God to being a FB small group leader for P31 OBS and how it breaking left me feeling very discouraged initially.  It had even brought me to the point of questioning God – did I hear him right that I was to say yes to this?  I mean, how was I supposed to do an online study AND lead a group on FB for that study when the device I needed to do so was no longer working and I didn’t have the funds to have it repaired again or replaced?  Pretty valid question wouldn’t you say?

 Well, obviously I’m still doing the study because here I am posting for the blog hop, but maybe you are wondering why and how I’m still here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

#YestoGod No Matter What: A Perfect Lesson in an Imperfect Post

My computer crashed today.  This is the second time it has done so since saying yes to God to be a FB small group leader for P31 OBS.  The first time was before the study actually started so it wasn't as big of a deal.  It was inconvenient for sure, as I would've liked to have had it to prepare for both attending She Speaks and the Yes to God study.  But not having it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  A blessing in the form of a lesson.  A lesson of learning to depend on God rather then myself and a lesson on turning to prayer to prepare rather than tasks.  Great lessons, but only the beginning, or computer crashing 101 if you will.  Today I advanced to computer crashing 201.
Todays crash brought about entirely new lessons leaving me #Amazed at how God uses our circumstances to grow us and mold us.  Or to shape our character to match our calling as Lysa says.
"God is using all of your experiences, both good and bad, to develop your character to match your calling." -Pg.72
Boy is He doing that in me, and I must say, it's a rather humbling process!  You see, when I had set out on this yes to God journey, I set out to make my plans, set my goals, get organized, etc.  And this week I made a lot of progress in doing just that.  I had all my perfectly pretty little poster pins created and saved, and all my perfectly prepared posts typed out and saved, and I even had all 6 wks worth of other related posters and quotes that I'd searched out to use for the study - all my computer.  I felt like I had it all under control...except for this little tiny issue throwing a crutch into my perfect little world at every turn - my malfunctioning computer!
But you know what?  The computer wasn't the issue.  There were two very different from that issues.  "I" being one of them.  Did you notice all the I statements above?  Well, there's this little thing about "I" and it's not just the length of the word.  Anytime you notice a whole lot of "I" going on, it's because their "eye" isn't focused where it should be - solely on the Lord.  I allowed my focus to be continually diverted with every "techy" issue that arose, and believe me when I say arose too numerous to count.  But this wasn't the only problem.  The second came in the form of perfection.
Rather than focusing on perfect surrender to God in my yes journey, my focus was continually being diverted to striving for perfect performance.  While I have known for many years that striving for perfection is a struggle of mine, I started to recognize it's presence in this chapter of my life in chapter 1 of Yes to God when Lysa wrote:
"Saying yes to God isn't about perfect performance, but rather perfect surrender to the Lord day by day."
Despite the fact that God had given me multiple mini lessons on perfection in the past few weeks, one of which I shared just last week in my "Forever, and never.  Amen." post, and two more that I had posts in the works for, it still took this computer crashing 201 today for this particular lesson on perfection to crash into my heart.  This was God's perfect timing though, to allow the enemies fiery arrow to pierce its target.  God had everything lined up just perfect.
First of all, my daughter woke up before I did, something she rarely does, causing me to forego my usual morning quiet time and leaving me weak and wide open for attack.  Secondly, today is worship wed in my group (shout out to group #56, you rock!), and worship is supposed to be all about Him right.  Then lastly, ironically enough, all the posts I had planned for my group today came from the section called "No Matter What" in chapter four and had very much to do about resting in the Lord.  Apparently the lesson I had planned God had intended for me.  Here's some of the quotes:
"We can't stop or control the things that roll our way any more than we can stop the water's edge.  But we can make the minute by minute choice to let our souls rest in God."
I was not in control, but God was.  And in circumstances such as this, we have a choice to make.  We could let our thoughts and actions race in a panic (which I did initially with many tears shed and words shouted - not a proud moment for sure), or we can rest in's funny because I had read this entire ch. thoroughly several times, highlighter and all, and yet still found myself caught in the enemies snare.  And the next quote is even more revealing...
"Rest knowing all is so safe in My hands.  Rest is trust.   Ceaseless activity is distrust.  Without the knowledge that I am working for you, you do not rest.  Inaction then would be the outcome of despair.  My hand is not shortened that it cannot save.  Know that, repeat it, rely on it, welcome the knowledge, delight in it.  Such a truth is as a hope flung to a drowning man.  Every repetition of it is one pull nearer shore and safety."
First of all, notice it says safe in God's hands, not ours.  Why do we try to so desperately cling to these things?  Why don't we give them over to God where they are safe?  Secondly - boy did I feel despair.  I felt like if my computer wasn't fixed and it wasn't fixed now, the whole world needed to stop.  And drowning?  I had just used that word to describe how I felt about it all in the conversation with my husband afger it happened.  So dramatic I know!  But don't we get this way when our focus is off God and on ourselves when we are faced with a problem beyond ourselves?  Well, God showed me today that it was not in fact the world that had stopped, but rather it was my focus on Him that had come to an abrubt halt along with my computer, and I needed to turn my "I" back into my "eye" on Him and rest there in this trial.
When I was finally able to re-shift my focus, God showed me that what had been feeling like an enormous mountain I was climbing, was in actuality only a mole hill in the bigger scheme of things because in truth, OBS kept right on clicking along without even an inkling of a sign of my troubles affecting it.  God's message was still reaching the thousands and even my group despite my imperfect performance.  You see, the truth I learned today is that getting God's message out doesn't require our perfect performance.  It only requires His perfect love through our perfect surrender.
I wasn't going to share this in the blog hop today because I knew that in order to do so would require me to let go of my usual standard for my posts.  It would mean that I would have to type this all out on my smart phone touch screen without spell check or gramar check, and without having had time to re-read and re-write anything...and yes, even without all my pretty perfect poster creations, lol.  Not that there's anything wrong with doing any of those things, but when perfection is sought in these things and that perfection distracts and detracts from God, then it is an issue.
When I felt God nudging me to say yes to this post, my response to Him was: "Why can't I wait until later in the week when perhaps I will have a working computer again."  Which really what I was saying was: "Wait Lord, I can't share your message until everything is perfect."  Oh how many times we do this - we buy into this lie that we need to wait until everything is perfect for us to share the Lord and do what He asks of us!  Well, do you know what God's response was?  He said: "Katrina, do you want to limit me to only what you can do through 'perfect performance' or do you want to experience what I can do through my perfect and limitless love?"
I had been putting God in a box.  I had taken His gifts He's given me and the call He's put in me and tried to wrap them all up in this pretty little perfect package to hand out.  Even now I'm picturing how perfect it would be to have a picture of that perfect little wrapped present right here in this post....
But God.
God doesn't need perfectly wrapped presents.  He only needs perfectly surrendered hearts.  Period.
This saying yes to God journey has proven to be challenging even in the small yeses, but when I said yes to God for this study, I said yes, no matter what.  I don't want to define for God what yes looks like or what no matter what includes.  I want to allow Him to fill in those blanks, whatever that may mean.  This is why when my computer crashed the first time, I said: "Yes God, no matter what."  And when my computer issues persisted into the study I still said: "Yes God, no matter what."   And so now, when my computer no longer works and I can't make all my posts perfect, or even know exactly how this is all going to work out, I say: "Yes God, no matter what!"
Not only has computer crashing 201 been a teaching lesson that I'm growing from, but it has also been confirmation for me that I am right where I'm supposed to be.  The enemy doesn't like that I've said yes, and he is seeking to deter me to ensure that I don't succeed.  But I have the omnipotent God behind me, beside me, before me, and in me.  A God that uses everything for our good.  A God with plans to prosper and not to harm me.  A God that provides me with hope and a future.  A God that sees His work in me through to completion.  A God thaf puts the enemies simple schemes and measly powers to shame!  This is the God I rest in and remain in and surrnder my heart to - the God of perfect love - No. matter. What.  What about you?
(A creation I had already posted in my group before my computer crashed, which is also imperfect because it doesn't have my blog address on it, lol)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Forever and Never, Amen.

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Have you ever become something or someone you thought you could never be?  Or how about becoming something/someone you said you’d just flat out never be?  Well, there’s this funny thing I’ve learned about never and it’s this:  it is one of those times that even though it can’t be found anywhere on our clocks or in our calendars, it can still come to pass – and in fact, it usually does.  At least that’s been my experience in life.

 It seems that every thing I’ve ever said never to, these were the very things that God had planned for me.  I said I’d never marry, and yet God led me to my husband.  I said I could never quit my job or would never be a stay at home wife, and yet, as I shared last week, God asked me to quit my job and I became just that.  I said I’d never have kids, and yet God gave me a daughter… I could go on and on, but instead let me just stop there and ask you this: do you find this all to be odd or find yourself wondering if this is all just mere coincidence?  I know I did, until I started learning about spiritual warfare and how the enemy operates and then it all started to became clear.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


"Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." ~Proverbs 3:5-6

            My grip on the steering wheel tightened instinctively when the reality of what lie ahead of me on the highway sank in; the word “perfect” escaping my lips in aggravation just as I brought the car to a halt behind the long line of stopped cars ahead of me on the I-5N interchange.  “Just another lovely commute to work in the wonderful life of Katrina,” I thought to myself letting out a frustrated sigh while putting the car in park.  I knew I’d be here awhile.  I’d been here before…the day before…and the day before that…and the day before that…and yes, the day before that too – pretty much EVERY DAY before that for the Last. Six. Months.  Ugh!

            Since I knew I wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon, I went ahead and shifted the car into neutral and engaged the emergency break so I could at least take advantage of this time to kick back and relax, but before I even finished pulling back the e-break I knew I was kidding myself.  Relax?  Ha!  Who could relax in this state of mind?  I reached over to turn the radio on in an attempt to distract my mind from wandering into all the thoughts and questions I’d been working so hard to avoid all these long months. The attempt was futile however, as the music quickly became inaudible – buried under the thick layers of negative chatter now building in my mind.

            “What was I thinking?  I can’t believe I actually chose this! Why have I devoted every second of my life for the last six years to this job when they don’t even care about me and I can’t stand it anymore?!   I know it’s not what I’m supposed to be doing with my life…I don’t even know who I am anymore.  Who is that in the mirror?  I despise that person staring blankly back at me.  Just look at that smug expression on her face - the pathetic scowl.  That is not a happy person.  That is an ugly person.  That person makes me sick…HOW DID I GET HERE?!”

            The thoughts and questions continued to mount up, threatening to overtake the towering walls around my heart I’d so carefully engineered all my life.  While they had held up to every attack/storm/encounter before, this time they didn’t stand a chance.  Bursting apart under the unbearable pressure of my thoughts, the shattered walls allowed my enclosed feelings to spew forth freely out of my heart for the first time.  Like lava erupting from a volcano, they barreled down on me, threatening to overtake me. 

Fighting just to get a breath of air, I knew I had to get out of the car and now!  But where would I go?  With every fiber of my being, I began to fight this very real urge to jump out and run, but not without a cost.  Feeling trapped in every sense of the word, my whole body began to quake and the tears I’d been holding back burst forth, burning my cheeks as they raced down my face.  Unable to maintain any sense of control now, I began to hit my fists violently on the steering wheel while letting out some pathetic cries in between clenched teeth, not caring by this point that there were people in the cars stacked up all around me, probably staring at me or worse, taking pics or video to upload on the internet of the crazy woman losing it in her car, plain as day for everyone to see.

            After the third pounding on the steering wheel, I sank down slowly into my seat, weeping and wishing that I could melt into it and cease to exist.  “If I can’t get out,” I think to myself, “maybe I could just disappear.”  Barely grasping on now to the last thread of the end of the rope I had been so desperately clinging to all these exhausting years, I finally gave in and decided to let go – let go and admit I can’t do this thing called life on my own.  I needed help...I needed rescue!  And in that moment of sheer desperation I finally turned my cries to God.  Literally, out loud, cried out to Him.  And just as all the negative chatter had mounted moments before, now all my thoughts and words spilled out to God. I laid it all down at his feet – my will, my way – everything, until ultimately, I came to one momentous question and promise: “Lord,” I whispered, head tilted back looking up at the ceiling of my car, “what would you have me do?  Whatever you say to do, I’ll do it.” 
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Then I sat in the quiet stillness of my car, tears still streaming down my face, waiting for what, I had no idea, but waiting none the less, when suddenly I became re-aware of the fact that the radio was on.  It had been programmed to K-love – a station that had been my one and only refuge from the invading darkness surrounding me all those intolerable previous months.  A voice was coming from it – not singing but talking – telling a story and reading the verse of the day, and amongst that voice I heard another voice.  Not an audible voice, but a clear one none-the-less – one I heard and felt in the depths of my soul – God’s voice saying: “It’s time.  Go and quit today.”

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Then the song “Brave” by Nichole Nordeman came blasting through the speakers, and just like that the traffic suddenly broke, and I found myself cruising full speed down the freeway, belting out the words: “So long status quo, I think I just let go.  You make me want to be brave – brave.  The way it always was, is no longer good enough.  You make me want to be brave – brave.”  

I never felt so free in my life!

             As much as I like the idea of ending with that happy cliffhanger, I won’t leave you completely in the dark.  I will tell you this little bit – as impossible and utterly crazy as it seemed in comparison to the reality of my world at the time, I did in fact, after 6 compulsive years of pushing for the top of that ladder, go in and quit my job that very day, and as a result my life has radically changed for the heart has radically changed for the better!  It didn’t happen over-night and it hasn’t all been one big easy cake walk for me either, but I have been radically blessed since then in so many ways. 

            If you would’ve told me back then that saying yes to God that day would ultimately lead me to where I am today, I would not have believed you because it was too far off from where I was to even have imagined it.  I simply didn’t believe it was possible to leave my job and live the life I now have as a stay at home mom with a heart in pursuit of God.  But like Lysa TerKeusrt says on pg. 13 of her book "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God: if you are in the thick of living with all that life throws at you and you simply whisper yes, you are equipped.”  This was proven to me to be true that fateful day back in 2005 when I said #YestoGod.  

            Are you feeling trapped in some aspect of your life?  Is your soul longing for something more?  Does your heart need radical intervention?  If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, will you dare to be radically obedient with me right now by declaring out loud the following prayer by Lysa:
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“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” ~2 Corinthians 16:24

 “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” ~2 Corinthians 3:17b
“We will never experience the radical blessings God has in store for us without radical obedience.” ~Lysa TerKeurst, “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” pg. 16