Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Boxing Gloves

I have such a great story to tell you. It is a tale that has been in the works for months, but only recently did it have an ending. It is yet another example of how God works!

On May 8th, I flew to Houston to prepare for my second surgery on The Nuisance (aka cancer). I was traveling alone while my husband remained behind to be with his students as they took their state mandated test. (I love his dedication to his kids!! He makes me proud!) I really thought the day would be no big deal. I would fly down, have a few tests run, and pick him up at the airport later that night. No problem! Only there was a problem. While I sat in the airport preparing to board, I felt my chin begin to quiver. Being alone gave my mind time to ponder the days ahead. A little fear crept in. The "what-ifs" took over. I choked back tears. As I climbed aboard the plane, my vision was blurred by the tears that filled my eyes. I sat in my seat and opened my Facebook. Maybe distraction would help me get myself back together, or at least help me hide my emotion.

Many people had posted words of encouragement. There were so many mentions of prayer. The comments were just what I needed to hear.  One in particular painted a picture that captured my mind. Gayla Bursiaga and I have shared paths from college to our careers. We both attended Wayland and now work for Lubbock ISD. On that day she posted the following words. They will forever be in my mind. Gayla wrote, "I had someone tell me once when I was going through a very difficult time that all the angels in heaven and hell were watching to see how God dealt with the situation and what MY reaction would be...I have gone back to that time and time again, and for some reason I thought about it today when I read your post. I must tell you that YOUR reaction to the journey you are on is an inspiring lesson to many, but especially me. I KNOW that God has ALREADY dealt with this journey! I, along with everyone else AND those Angels...can't wait to see God show OFF! I am praying for your continued journey...and praising for the victories he has given you already!" 

As I read the post, I pictured myself in a boxing ring. At the moment, I was on the ground, feeling beaten and bloody. I could imagine hell on one side and heaven on the other. Hell was booing, taunting me to stay down. Heaven was cheering and calling for me to stand and fight. Both responses were motivating! The competitor in me heard the jeers and thought (quite literally) "Oh, Hell NO!". I heard the angels cheering. I pictured myself getting to my knees, staggering to my feet, taking a deep breath, and starting to throw back punches. My chin stopped quivering. My tears dried up. My mind pondered victory, not loss. It was just what I needed! I could feel my strength building. I felt my whole posture change. I felt like Rocky at the top of the stairs, jumping from foot to foot with my fists in the air.

Because the image was so powerful to me, I became obsessed with finding charms of boxing gloves. I wanted a set for me and a set for my friend Gayla. I wanted each of us to have a reminder of that powerful image. A reminder that God gives us strength to fight on. I found them. That very day I ordered the charms. They were at my home before I was.

Throughout the summer those charms set on my kitchen counter. Although I had been so obsessed to get them ordered, I kept forgetting to mail them. All summer long they sat. A couple of weeks ago I messaged Gayla to get her address, but even then I didn't get them in the mail. I felt horrible for procrastinating. Finally, on Monday the 12th, I got them in the mail. On August 15th I received a message from Gayla. I asked if I could share our story. It is quite amazing!!

On the day that Gayla received the boxing gloves it turns out that she was on her way to have a mammogram. Only three people knew. As she put it, "something just wasn't right". Gayla's family is familiar with breast cancer and fear was her companion that day. The timing of those gloves arriving was no coincidence. In Gayla's words, "It was God's reminder to me, that as undeserving as I am, that whatever comes...all of heaven and hell are watching that boxing ring!" The image that had given me strength to fight on, now strengthened her.

As I read her message, tears again blurred my vision. This time they were tears of awe. God used Gayla to give me strength five months ago. He then formulated a plan to return the favor to her. My procrastination was God's perfect timing. He knew the exact moment those charms would mean the most! He sees every detail of our lives. No tear or fear goes unnoticed. He uses people, images, even little silver charms, to show his children he loves them. Some think God is distant and uncaring. Some think he doesn't see our individual pain. Gayla and I stand together, hand in hand, to tell you that isn't true. God is in the details. He is looking for ways to get your attention and show you he cares. He wants you to get up and keep on fighting. He and his angels are cheering you on!

Oh, and Gayla's mammogram? It was normal!!! God is good! ALL THE TIME!!!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Lies of Spies

Do you hear voices? Not the kinds that make you doubt your sanity. I am talking about the ones that make you doubt your future. Maybe they say to you that your relationship is beyond repair. Perhaps they say that your health will never be restored. They may tell you that you will always be alone, or that you will never reach your goal. The voices say you are not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, wealthy enough...Do you have those voices?

I have been reading about the Israelites this week. They had been promised a land that would be a perfect home. A land that would be blessed for them.  As they approached this new land, they sent some spies ahead to gather more information. Were the people there strong or weak? Few or many? Was the land good or bad?  12 spies went.  They returned with news that the land truly was a good land, flowing with milk and honey. BUT... There is it. The voices begin to cast doubt. Ten of the spies were afraid. The people there are too strong! There are giants! The land will devour us! We are small as grasshoppers to them! We should not go. The lies of spies.

I wonder how many times we are right on the edge of what God wishes to bless us with, when we suddenly begin to listen to the voices of men, rather than God. We believe the lies of spies. Sometimes the spy that lies is our own inner voice of doubt. Sometimes it is the voice of fear. It might the voice of a well-meaning family member or friend. It might come from someone who is jealous of a new opportunity. The lies can come from an enemy, or a stranger. The lies of spies tell us we can't, we shouldn't, it is not possible. Believing the lies can rob us of our blessing.

Two of the twelve spies saw a different possibility. Although they saw the same giants and obstacles, they also remembered that God was with them. He had shown them miracles before and would do so again. God promised safe delivery if the Israelites would only believe. They refused to believe the voices of doubt and fear. They refused to believe the lies of spies. 

Sadly, the Israelites didn't have the same faith. As a result, they rebelled. They doubted. Their doubt led them back to the wilderness. Only Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who did not doubt God, were allowed to enter the Promised Land.

Do you listen to the lies of spies? Are they telling you that things will never get better? Do they tell you that you are not good enough? That God has forgotten you? Do they lie to you about who you are? Do the voices tell you that you will never reach the Promised Land so you might as well stay in proverbial Egypt?

Do not listen to the lies of spies.  God is big enough to lead you through the land of giant obstacles. He is strong enough to keep you from drowning in the Red Sea of life. He is compassionate enough to heal you in the desert of loneliness. He is merciful enough to feed you in the wilderness of fear.  The God who leads you through the desert is the God who will see you safely to the land He has promised you. Do not listen to the lies. Grab your bedroll and keep on moving. The Promised Land lies ahead! You don't want to miss this!

Do not listen to the lies of spies!