The lamb born in a stable

image I love Christmas time. I always have. Growing up in a liturgical church, we had such an array of festival and pageantry that Christmas was a time I always looked forward to; not only because of receiving gifts, but the nativity. I loved the nativity scene. My parents owned a jewelry store back in the day; Hart’s Jewelers. They worked late in December and we would always drive home in the darkness or fog after a full nights work.   On the way home there was a star off in the distance with cascading streams of light. You could see it 5 miles away, at least that’s how I remember it.  Under the star was a full-size life ( not living) nativity scene. It was truly amazing. Every night on the way my brother and I would beg my parents to drive by the “star”.  They did, probably once a week, although I could have gone every night. I can remember every detail in my memory and it simply was the Christmas story for me. Jesus, in the manger, his parents over Him, the shepherds and wise men near by. Camels and sheep, lots of sheep.  It was lit up and straw was all around. It was magical.

I always believed in Jesus, I didn’t doubt His existence or the virgin birth or the Angels appearing in the heavens singing “Gloria in excelsis   Deo “.   But I just didn’t realize what was really happening.  God, leaving His throne, His kingdom, His worshippers to put on human flesh. To feel human, fully human; joy, pain, love, grief, anger, and abandoned.   He became everything that we are; born, a life full of family drama ( remember no one believed Mary was a virgin, except Joseph ,Elizabeth, and Zechariah.) His brothers and sisters thought He was crazy and his earthly father died before His ministry began. He knew He was God, but He never used His powers beyond what we ourselves as believers with faith could use also. He didn’t come handsome so that people would look at Him and say”now there is a king!”   He knew deep moments of loneliness that would not be satisfied the way it was in the heavenlies.  And above all, He came knowing the mission, to die for all humans, to die in each and everyone’s place for their sins, great and small, filthy dirty icky sin. Every human that has been conceived He paid in full their debt for sin and filled an account full of all they will ever need. That account sits full awaiting the activation that occurs when you believe.  Even those who rejected Him to their final breath have an account in their name that only awaits their belief.  What belief?  The need for being rescued.

This salvation that Christ came to redeem is all about the story of us. Our need to be rescued from bondage, a place we can’t get out of ourselves;  a problem arises that impedes God’s purpose for life and blessing*.  What God wants is for us to cry out to Him For help, to recognize we need help.  The problem that arises, however, is that we think we can handle problems thrown our way; that we can work it out, create a plan to solve it.  Our American culture is simply full to the brim of American self reliance and hard work. We built this country and we can make it better, we can bring it back, we just need a new leader, a new plan, or more money, but we can handle this, we don’t ask for help, that would be too dependent.

The crux of the salvation story is right at the beginning, God waiting to hear from us, to cry out.  He gave us example after example of a people He called out to live so that we would see the pattern.   The Israelites cried out and God heard them, the primal scream for redemption*.  This is what we need to hear this season. Not what leader will get us, but what a God, The God, is waiting for. He seeks us out and asks “where are you?”

This Christmas season, don’t just remember the baby, the incarnate Word of God in human flesh, but remember why He came.  That we might recognize our feeble attempt to save ourselves from a difficult life or circumstances.  Those very issues are there to cause of to realize we can’t do it without this Almighty God. He is there, waiting in the garden, in the stable, on the cross, and in the empty tomb.  Embrace your lack of control, embrace life’s curve ball that hits you in the eye, God wants you to need Him. Then sit back and watch the mighty rescue of your God.  See his wonders and receive His grace.  Without suffering or pain we would never know we need to be rescued.

Merry Christmas and may 2016 be the year you allow God to save and rescue you in everything, great to small. Then He receives the Glory and we get to share our story of rescue.

Advertisements

Restless yet trusting 

Can life get any worse?  I am sure it can. The poorest of the poor get hit with another earthquake, Christians lose their lives for holding to the testimony of the Lamb, sweet babies fall into the arms of Jesus too soon for us still left here on earth.  But for me it this is a time of sweetness but as it goes down it becomes bitter and gives you an upset stomach.  

The sweetness comes from hanging onto the cross , running into random Christians who fix your direct tv, having bible study with Monday night tribe and seeing God answer prayers; the bitter…..pain of a mothers broken heart.  When your child , no matter the age, comes down with a disease it is life changing.  When there is no cure and it comes with social stigma it is even worse.  Making hard decisions that make you second guess your plan, your motives , what is best for all and still wishing you could fix it right now; it also makes you question what is the right path to treatment causing a deep deep groaning in your spirit and soul. 

Knowing that Christ is interceding on my behalf and my familie’s life brings comfort.  But if you asked me what life I would want to have I would choose this difficult one over and over again.  I don’t think I could honestly say that in the past.  When life is easy , when you don’t have trouble or struggle you never get to exercise faith.  If things just  go smooth according to your own dream plan you never need to pray or ask God the hard questions.  You can just assume all is well and you are blessed because life is smooth. 

 Mine is not, never has been.  It is a true path of struggle , pain, sin, shame, and one that must be lighted by the word of God.   I have had a hard time living my own personal path when I keep comparing my life to others.  I have known people who cruise through life , they are Christians for sure, but their path is not a curvy up and down steep mountain drop off a cliff kind of path.  Theirs is a straight road with the wind blowing in their hair and laughter all the way home to Jesus.  I used to be jealous.  I used to want that life and wonder why God loves them more than me to bless them with such a families that never break down.  

But I am set free from that.  I have seen people suffer more than me and still love God.  I believe God made me to live in this time and have these kids and this husband.  My family needs each of us to stand in the gap for such a time as this.  I now embrace where the Lord is taking me.  I even know He uses my sin to foil the plans of the devil.  I can’t out sin His grace and I don’t want to.  I don’t want to covet a life that is not mine. I am not bored ( laughing at that word) and I am in deep pain but my God has a bigger plan.  He sees from a far and knows what needs to be Knit together and then puts me where I need to be.  So just when I thought peace was here we get hit with news of ours sons brain disease.  I still have hope and love. I will borrow that phrase from my sweet and dear sister in Christ,  Mary, who lost her son last week.  HOPE AND LOVE.   I want my life.  I want this beautiful mess I want to walk where others fear to go, I want to shout at the enemy and watch him leave as I submit to God. I want to be a part of this unperfect family that I Love so much.  We may not be smiling all the time, we may not even have a thing to smile or laugh about but we will anyway.  So when you see us don’t judge , you don’t know what path God has for us. What He needs to do from past generations to move us forward with new generations.  But I am finally free to let it go and carry on.  Yes I am a beautiful mess, I may not look beautiful or act “Christian” enough for some but my love for Christ grows daily and my trust and faith in His plan is growing deep roots so I may weather this storm and those to come.  When I am weak He is strong.   So let me be weak , let my fragile family be weak for He has a plan and it is specific to us.  

Peter was so concerned about what Jesus said about John that he had to be rebuked by Christ.  Jesus said “what is it to you Peter if John doesn’t die?”  ” you follow me and where I want you to go “.  I wants this life that causes me to cling to faith as I ride along the side of a curvy steep path along the edge of a cliff because it is here that I can only trust my maker.  I would never call on him along a straight easy smooth road , I would trust in myself and think “I got this”. So God , thanks for knowing me better, thank you for all the beautiful messes because I know that is how you are crafting me into the likeness of your son.   I am humbled you still love me and I believe in miracles.  Just thank you Lord.  I surrender 

A Broken System

Art-Brut-3The Mental Health System is broken.  It is not functioning well, it is disconnected, lacks congruity and relies on short visits from doctors, not prepared to see their “patients” and a long list of drugs that they think will work within 4 days.  They don’t, medicine takes time and should be accompanied by a healthy diet, good sleep, exercise and trust.     This is now the 5th hospital stay for my son in two years.   Each visit lasted one week to 5 weeks.  He was always discharged right when our insurance was about to end.  We didn’t notice this until the pattern emerged after the third stay.  My son knew this too, he has learned to be institutionalized, he knows his rights and what he can refuse and not refuse.   Now I don’t want the reader to think I believe all mental health care workers are bad or incompetent, but the system in which they work seems to be like the mind of a schizophrenic; many voices shouting over one another, people doing things that overlap, a system that doesn’t believe the patient, or the caregivers input. they simply want to stabilize and get them home.   Trying to work with them leaves me so exhausted and stressed I just want to find a way to start my own facility.  Get about 10 million dollars in grants, buy land, build housing, base the model on a system that incorporates the spiritual element as well and use the money so people can actually afford to come live there.  A self sustaining facility, growing their food, nutritionists, fitness trainers, doctors who want to stay and mental health nurses and aids that love people and don’t get cynical.  A wild fantasy for sure.   There are a few I have found some that sound promising ( except the spiritual part) but they run about 26,000-30,000 per month.  That’s right, per MONTH.   Who can afford that?   Average stay is one to three years.

This last hospital visit was the worst.  The facility was the nicest, it was the cleanest, almost posh, but the workers were detached and didn’t even know my son’s name.  I came to visit and no one talked to me, acknowledged me or my son, it was so odd.  Not a hello, or “is this your mom”? or “this is how he is doing”….they called him by his first name ( a big clue that they didn’t even know he went by his middle name).   Visitation was a joke, one hour at the worst time of day ( three times per week).    My son, for the first 3 and 1/2 weeks was throwing up his meds.  I told them he was, but they didn’t believe me.  They said that couldn’t happen.   But he was pacing so much his socks wore out and he lost weight.  We had to buy new pants and socks,  but still they told me there was no way he wasnt getting the meds into his system.  I explained about his personality, but the doctor told me he couldnt listen to my ideas based on a hypothetical theory.   I said, it isn’t theory, he is waiting you out, he won’t comply because he know you will release him in 30 days.   The doctor did take that to heart and told him he would keep him longer.  Then an amazing thing happened, my son took his meds and began to participate.  He slept through the the next four days but stopped pacing and barely ate.  He needed the sleep I am sure but now he was a zombie. Now by this point the dosage was so high because they thought he wasn’t responding, he turned into a walking zombie.  they were happy because he stopped pacing and actually slept longer than one hour per night.   I requested they drop the meds back down to entrance levels and the doctor actually agreed with me and lowered the dosage, but it was still very high and because he refused to give blood they couldn’t test the depakote levels.    We knew that day 30 was arriving and they would release him because our insurance was up, I asked for a 4 day extension because my husband was still in Korea for an army conference and I didn’t feel safe bringing him home alone.    We haven’t been safe, it has been dangerous, emotional, violent, erratic and we feel like we are fighting an unseen fiend who is preying on our son.   Everyone in the household is on edge and the tension is unbearable.  This, unfortunately, feeds my son.  He , like an X-man mutant, receives all our tension and feeds on it.  We try to conceal this life from others, but it pours out like water you try to hold in the palm of your hand.

We then had to  follow up with the local law mandated appointments with the county run center.  My son would not speak, paced the halls, was verbally abusive and obviously mentally unstable at the time.  I could not make sure he ingested the meds. ( to the novice reading this, I assure you that following around a 21 year old man and watching him to ensure he keeps the pills down can be dangerous,  to avoid violent conflict I ask and trust and then watch behavior, if he is acting out I tell him I have to call 911, that usually makes him compliant, I just do not want the reader to think it is as easy as watching him swallow pills or stand outside the bathroom, what you deal with in this situation is not rational or reasonable, you must throw out those techniques)   But the county behavioral health  did NOTHING for us.  I begged for help, I needed in home help, a nurse or a mental illness specialist to help me or a home or living facility he could stay, anything.  But nothing exists.    She spent 15 minutes typing as I talked, because my son “saw fit” that I should speak and not him”,  of course everything I said “were lies and needed to be deleted”  She was typing continuously while I talked, it was a loud keyboard and extremely annoying, I don’t know how my son didn’t come flying across the table.  Want to be tense?,  just type everything a person is saying while they talk, don’t look at them or listen, just type type type….maybe a new system could be installed, voice recording and then have someone type it later?  I dont know.   Just don’t irritate mentally unstable people more please.   I asked what I should do, I was a little scared, she said ” he said he wasn’t suicidal or homicidal so she could do nothing”  I actually said that, remember he wasn’t speaking…. She said I could take him to the ER but they would only think he was an angry teenager, but he isnt, he is  21, almost 22.      So alone in a vast sea of undulating waters that pulls us down to the bottom while we fight the current trying to get a breath we go on.   I left and wanted to sit in my car and cry.  But I knew my son would feed off that emotional surge and I had to remain calm.

I had really hoped the doctor prior to discharge would use his leverage, and tell my son in order to be discharged he would have to 1.   allow them to draw blood and run a full blood panel screen to check his system, 2.   run a drug screen and  3.  they could order a brain scan so we could look at this neurologically and rule out anything there.  He denied all three.  He said the brain scan was only for traumatic brain damage and would not help my son’s case,  ( not true, I have several academic papers from Harvard, Mayo clinic etc) and they show schizophrenic brains on scans can show us a lot.  He hasn’t had a blood panel since this started three years ago, we have no idea of white cell counts, and all other levels,.   I was so upset because the leverage was needed to get compliance.   We will try on our own to find a neurologist and get this done this week if possible.  I will have to find my own care givers by searching alone yet again.  And just for the record, I am a member of NAMI, I support them, but the support group I attended was so depressing I just couldn’t go back.   I sat with women twice my age who had been taking care of their sons for 25 years and they were no better.   They were in and out of hospitals , broke, non compliant with meds and many had been in jail.   I am just not ready to concede.   I would rather be in denial for a while longer , I would rather choose hope and and work to make a new system.  I will await my miracle aslo.

Depression-and-Mental-Illness

My husband and I have decided to just tell people he has cancer when he acts strangely, we could just say he has brain cancer.   Then people wont be so scared and judge him or us.  It is crazy to say that, but if he was terminally ill anywhere else in his body people would be kind and helpful, but if it is a sickness of the brain, then it is our fault or his fault and they avoid us, judge us and leave us. ( most don’t say that out loud, but you  hear what they say, people don’t’ keep secrets.)  People just can’t handle unresolveable situations.   Because it is so exhausting and you never feel like it will end, others just don’t want to be around that.  I can’t explain it, but we have lost friends because they  think we should fix this and move on and if they don’t see results then we arent doing what needs to be done.   They don’t believe me when I tell them how broken the mental health system is, they just don’t believe me.   And they don’t think it could ever happen to them because they are good people and good parents., that cause idea again.   No one would ever blame a parent for cancer or diabetes or autism, but mental illness…..there is a stigma attached to that.  I just have to smile and try to educated them.  If they really want to know I have books to read and they can search.   I have one dear friend who is already searching, reading and doing all she can to help, she was with me at lunch with my son and it so shocked her she went into full blown “I must help her mode”  Thank heavens for friends like that.  No judgement and the power to want to make changes.

Be that friend, be that person who will step in and help.  Be that person that writes the congressional leader to fund grants to open facilities, who will stand in the gap with fervent prayer.   I am so blessed to have that friend, I am not alone.   Christ sustains us and sends us people who will love and care for us.  Even in the mess.  Because this is messy and weird and unworldly.

Sounds of Silence-thoughts in a broken mind

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

This song seemed appropriate to listen to  as I left the  behavioral health facility after another visit to see my son.   The noise in my son’s mind must be unbearable.   His drugs are dosed way too high.  But then again when one gets thrown into a stabilization facility and they don’t know you and you are not yourself they simply start guessing.   The problem is the human condition is fluid.  Not everyone is static.   One drug may work in miniscule amounts or not at all.   My son was off all meds and we were all told nothing was wrong 9 months ago.  We took him off everything according to this doctor, I wrote about it in a previous blog.  We chose to believe him. It was nearly impossible to think this Psychiatrist was right, but we did as he prescribed and took him off all meds.  For 9 months my son was as right as rain, as normal as he could be considering all he has been through.    I will still choose hope and belief.  What else am I left with?   At a meeting I tried to attend I was told the sooner I get over my denial and accept his illness, the sooner I can heal and move on.   Call me stubborn , but I am content to live in denial and pursue hope and healing.   I just can’t give it all up, I am not ready, I may never be ready.  This battle is ongoing and we had some rest and relaxation for 9 months, but the enemy is back.    I know I am supposed to be all scientific, but I just refuse.  I have a body, a mind, a soul and a spirit.  My soul is where my will and my emotions live and my mind plays a part with that soul and also with my body.  But my spirit?  Yep ,it has a part to play also.  It is where faith lives.  All humans have faith-they simply put their faith into different values and ideas.    Some have faith in Jesus, who claimed to the be the son of God and was crucified for His statement of Godhood.   I am one of those who believe He really was son of God and really was crucified and then on the third day He was resurrected and defeated death for my sins, my inability to live a perfect life.  Some have faith that there is no God, or faith in themselves, or faith in the universe or a doctors diagnosis.

Mental health is too complex to leave to one aspect of the entire human condition.   He needs His spirit to be filled and protected, he needs his mind to calm down and stop racing and shut down ( drugs can really help here), his soul needs nourishment to know and realize he is loved and safe and his body needs sleep, good nutrition , exercise and in his case NO ILLICIT DRUGS.  It is like he is allergic to them.  They open something up inside him and out comes strange ideas, movements and paranoia.   What is interesting is that his symptoms are like so many others.  I mean literally.    Same script, same words, same attacks, same voices……how can that be?   I can understand diabetics having the same symptoms because their organs pretty much work the same in everyone’s body in the same way, or in their case they don’t work.  But mental health?  How can symptoms cross cultural, racial, socioeconomic barriers?  Even religious barriers?  The more I read accounts the more I see my son in other’s books.  Same signs, symptoms, voices, gestures, etc.   So I know the brain is doing something chemically, from some cause ( drugs seem to be a trigger) and almost all people lack insight that something is wrong.  Their brain literally tells them the wrong signal.   It seems intentional, like an enemy force put the play into action in their brains, that the enemy was able to get inside and send signals to fire in the brain for them to say the same things, act the same way, use vulgar language, become super strong, see the same figures…..How can this be?   It has to be spiritual.

I do believe in a spirit world, because I believe the bible.  It talks a lot about messengers or as we call them angels.   Most Americans believe in angels, but not fallen angels.   I do, and not just because of the bible but because I have seen their work.   Like a portal opens and they have permission to come in and prey on a  person in their weakest area.  They would know, they are assigned to each person.  God , in the psalms says each person has guardian angels ( messengers from God) so that is at least two messengers.    If I were the enemy I would send at least one to frustrate the plans of God.  And since they have been around longer than all of us they would know all our weaknesses, hear our self talk in  the silence when we are alone,  and they would know all the generations prior to us; what they did, what their weakness were or their ‘bents’.    They could easily have a way in and I believe unforgiveness, rejection, drug addiction, occultic practices can be portals for them to come in.    I am sure I have lost a lot of you by now.   Everyone would like it to be a scientific curable problem, but it isn’t.  And the truth is it is growing and the system is broken and most end up in a vicious cycle of hospital, release, counsel, rejection of meds, back to ER, then to hosp for stabilization and all over again.   And it costs billions over the course of time.   The hard part is that the person who is afflicted doesn’t even know , their minds have become captive to something else; and their families are stigmatized, embarrassed, judged and set aside.  No one like to deal with a problem that doesn’t seem fixable and appears self inflicted.  (IT IS NOT)

Sounds of Silence…..those words haunt me, because they do not describe silence.   They describe darkness being a friend to talk to , visions creeping in while sleeping and seeds being planted in his mind.   But it is familiar and he considers it a friend, someone he is acquainted with.   Think of a child with an invisable friend, or a monster under the bed….what if they had insight into the spiritual and we did not protect them with the word of God and told those foul spirits to leave in Jesus name.  What if they were trying to tell us something and we didn’t listen because we didn’t believe.  We need to  Close all portals of unforgiveness , bitterness and rejection and shame, (any many others), which often lead to destructive behaviors people use to cover it all up,hide it, run from it

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more.
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.

I don’t have the answers, this is simply a writing of thoughts along the way of my journey into this dark world I have been thrown into and  my wondering  about what is going on.     I want to fight this on all sides, I want to help those in every area.  A war cannot be won on one front, it must be flanked and surrounded until the enemy surrenders.  In this case I will fight, pray, study both the word of God and the word of doctors.  I will search medicines, nutrition and deliverance as well   I believe we saw a miracle for 9 months, I know it and I will not let my faith be shaken…..This son of my will be of sound mind and not possessing a spirit of fear.   Here me enemy of the light, your days are numbered, in the name of Jesus Christ you will leave and your plans thwarted not only for my son but for a multitude.   Amen, which means SO BE IT

Multi-tasking

So I am so new to blogging, I cant get my pictures where I want them, but for now, this is how God sees us, the finished product, and below how we see ourselves….even a lesson from my lack of knowledge of this blogging machine, and I must go to bed!!!!

after, all ready to relax and be ready for Lord to move me to action

after, all ready to relax and be ready for Lord to move me to action

Multitasking, this is a new word we often hear daily.  We use it to justify all the work we are doing or trying to do or hope to do.  We think the more we can accomplish while doing something else the more we can get done and then somehow find the perfect place of rest.  A recent study I heard on PBR ( not pabst blue ribbon, for those of you who care to know), showed that multitasking is actually a detriment to getting work done and getting it done well.  Well, regardless of the study….”Hi, I am Amy and I am an addicted multitasker”, “hi Amy”!

Case in point, take a look at this photo.  This is what has been building up over the last few months.  In this room, lets call it my office, are all the wonderful things I am working on.  Mind you they are all great things and fun and exciting and profitable for my heart, soul and mind.  Lets see: There is the jewelry I am making, just made my dear friend my first piece of turquoise and antler pendants along with coin charms we bought at the flea market together….of course I have about 25 more to make; then there are the horse beaded horse shoes I make, there is the bible study I am starting to write and all the books I need to study, there are bags of boots and chaps and breeches from the last race that need to be put away, Christmas presents, pillows to remake the guest room, a wonderful piece of art my daughter had made for me waiting for the perfect frame, burlap projects for the front porch and thanksgiving, pictures that need to be scanned and stored.  I could go on.  You see I am working on all this a bit at a time, not to mention the beach house management, the new jewelry line I am selling ( Chloe and Isabel) and the subdivision I have under contract to build houses on, which closes this month if all goes well.   All of this is good stuff, I could prioritize, but still I would want to dabble here and there and never get any of it done.

This is how so many of us Christ followers behave.   We have so much going on we give a little here , a little there and soon our spiritual souls look like my room.  Filled with so much we get overwhelmed and just stop doing any of it.  We often think we must use out gifts, if we even know what they are, or figure out what to do in order to help all the while keeping the family functioning at home and of course smoothly.    Paul said they gave of themselves.   That is an easy order to follow.  Just give what you have.  You have a word of encouragement, say it, you have time to meet for coffee, get to it, want to write a letter, send it. Do people keep coming up and telling you what you are good at?, well listen to them and take it as from the Lord. If you have several encounters over and over again about what they think you are good at , or they could see you doing that, I would OPEN YOUR EARS!! Sometimes we pray that God would show us what He wants us to do. We look for signs and open doors. Paul never had an open door, he had a mandate to preach the gospel and he just went to work regardless of a door being opened or closed. Has somehow told you lately that your kindness helped them get through something, or that they really appreciate the time you take out of your day to help them and it saved them?, or what about your skills? what do you love to do? What do you do? If you have something that you love and it happens to you weekly or daily that is your gift, it is using yourself. I have been asked at least 17 times ( not exaggerating) in two weeks if I give horseback riding lessons. I am praying hard about that, that has never happened before. I have been asked by at least 12 people on different days and people who do not know each other, but they all have asked if I would write a study on the Feasts of the Lord and the Wedding of the Lamb. I am serious, this is just happening, almost everyday. But when I look at my room I realize that if it stays this way I will have no time to pursue what God is calling me to do. It is time to clean house. Get it in order so that I am available to not only hear God, but be ready with my shoes on and my staff in my hand. So I encourage you, multitask away, as a mother, a wife, a working women or student which many of you are some of the above, you have become proficient at doing many things all at once. After all God created us to be adaptable and malleable to be a suitable “helpmeet” so we are gifted in this area. So I think of it as our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. We can take on too much and let it get away from the main objective. That is to show the love of Christ to those who are perishing. Please don’t get hung up on the “gifts”, I pray this very week you will hear the voice of God through others sharing snippets of what you are good at. Please don’t ignore them or shrug them off like we women are so prone to do. Think about it, if you hear it more than once take note, if it comes up three times I honestly believe it is from the Lord. But test the spirits, always see if what you hear lines up with scripture, and if it does MOVE AHEAD.
Your sister in Christ, Amy
a href=”https://tigerhart.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/img_5722.jpg”>All my projects in their glory All my projects in their glory[/caption]

Following the Path

Nite and me at the Yellowhammer ride. Our first first place ride together.

Nite and me at the Yellowhammer ride. Our first first place ride together.

Sometimes we go through life looking for signs. We search in the bible, we pray, we ask others and we even do silly things like ask God to sky write it in the clouds, or open a door that seems impossible to open; we want a sign, an answer that we are indeed on the right path. Recently I was called to ride ( I would say blessed or fortunate, but I am starting to believe God calls us to every situation even the ordinary or mundane), my new horse Nite in a 25 mile race and then Promise in a 50 mile race the next day. So many obstacles were in the way just to get there I felt I may never arrive. But arrive we did and got to work setting up camp, vetting in and preparing our game plan for the next few days. Torrential rains poured through out the morning the race was delayed for a couple of hours. We started strong and Nite and I raced to a first place finish, it was a delightful joy to cross that line and have a horse full of energy and elation at my first time to win first place.

 But the Lord had a plan for me the next day, the Day of Atonement for the ancient Jewish Nation, The Day of the Lord for future thoughts and discourse, but I digress. I took off in the lead for the first loop; as I came in guns blazing, I had a great sound vet check and waited the 50 minutes to head back out. Promise, without a horse ahead and one behind him, slowed to an average 7.5 mph, not lightening speed, but decent for a wet single track through the woods. I was on the green and white loop, which consisted of white ribbons with green polka dots, not exactly shinning beacons of color or obvious in the dense forest of autumns shifting colors.  The person who had marked this particular trail, unknown to them had set the course for a wonderful and Godly message not only for me, but for the ladies in my bible studies I would be teaching.   These ribbons were placed just far enough apart that as you trotted or cantered along you began to wonder if you had missed a turn, even though there wasn’t an obvious turn anywhere in sight.    Then moment would  come that I had to consider if I did indeed miss an obscure turn and should I turn around, and then BAM, a ribbon would appear. I would thank the Lord, continue my pace and sing and pray during this most High Holy Day unto the Lord, yes a joyful noise for sure, crazy and made up songs, but joyful according to His word. Soon this pattern of ribbons just beyond what I could handle would appear in the nick of time reminding me that indeed I was on the right path. Soon a very determined rider caught up with me and judging by the look in her eyes and the fact she didn’t stop to water her horse in the majestic creek I was in, gave me pause to consider that she was serious about winning. I came out of the creek and started up the trail and she immediately passed me and took off with lightening speed. Well, Promise would have none of that and he kicked it into high gear and we galloped the next 10 slick and sloppy miles along single track with great speed. Ribbons were still sparse and I was still aware that I was riding by faith and just when I began to doubt the ribbon would appear bolstering my faith and confidence. She had missed two ribbons due to her speed and I hollered “hey”, turn here and soon she relaxed and we began to talk and enjoy the ride.  At vet check after a fast 20 miles we checked out well, but my faithful friend did not want to eat or drink. I began the task of forcing him to eat grass and drink from a plunging tube and water bottle. I knew without eating or drinking on his own we wouldn’t pass the final vet inspection regardless of how well he trotted out. Off again in first we took off for the final loop.  She passed us again and now it was 12 miles of full gallop. This was not what I had planned. My mentor’s ever-present voice bid me , “don’t get caught up in someone else’s race” kept a steady cadence in my heart.  Soon two more fast women came upon us and the four of us went flying through the Talladega national forest. This was the white loop and I realized I was not watching ribbons anymore, we were going too fast, I was simply following them. I was no longer trusting the Lord ( ribbons) to follow the way set before me, but I was caught up with others as they went about their intense pace to finish the race. My horse was keeping up well but I knew this was not best for him. I couldn’t stop him well as I had shifted to a hackamore ( a bit-less bridle I can usually use on the last loop). I had to stop and get off their game plan.   Promise wouldn’t drink at the water stops with their horses, he only wanted to be in the lead. That was the final straw, I had to make a change, get back to what I was called to do with the horse I was on and what I had come to do; and that was finish with 50 more miles under my belt.   I got off in a creek, filled my water bottle forced him to drink two of them, forced green grass into his mouth and waited. I knew I wasn’t going to race them off and would be fourth no matter what, but if my horse didn’t pass I would be out and this day would result in a pull full of tears and regret. After I remounted, Promise knew they were up ahead and his pace quickened. I watched for the white ribbons and once again they came in the nick of time as I began to doubt I was on the right path yet again.  I am a slow learner when it comes to faith.   At the next creek I got off again and went through the force water and grass routine, he began to eat and drink on his own and knew I had done what I needed to do for him and that we would finish. My faith welled up inside me and I trusted the Lord for the rest. We finished 4th and had an impressive 50 mile race time. The girl who won, was showered with flowers and ribbons, but she carried with her a broken finger, bruised ribs and a mild concussion. In their speed the three riders were vying for position when the first place rider hit a tree and was catapulted 20 feet injuring herself. She is a tough cookie, remounted told her friends who had stopped to check on her she was fine, jumped on and out ran them to the finish line. I was so glad not to be near that accident, and  overjoyed to be fourth. 

  But I was so much more excited about the Lord teaching me about the journey and the ribbons and my faith.  Having that lesson and knowing I would be able to share this was the real prize.   I knew several people who were at a crossroads of sorts in life, going along a path and wondering if they were on the right path.  I could assure them that soon a ribbon would appear and confirm they were also on the right path.   The word says that we plan our course,  but it is the Lord that determines our steps.   Proverbs’ 16:9.   I learned that as we journey there are markers, and these markers are just beyond where you can see them. They are around the corner of Faith and trust. Many people simply think they have missed them and turn around, sometimes they get lost doing this, other times they lose out as others pass them by, some even doubt there is a ribbon up head and they lose faith. But…there is a ribbon ahead, you just must trust the Lord. Believing in Jesus is about leaning your entire personality onto Him, trusting Him with everything and believing.   It is our obedience to believe.  We get confused and think we should be “doing” things to obey the Lord, not so, we are to BELIEVE!   The actions come later in our belief.  TO BELIEVE, TO KNOW AND BELIEVE increases our faith, it allows us to pray with out doubt, being double minded.  It allows us to trust God.  Doubt would always creep in minutes before I would see the ribbon and then I would be so thankful and glad I would rejoice, but within a few miles I would wonder all over again if I had missed it, but then there it was.

Now we obviously don’t get real ribbons in life, but we do get His word, spoken in the right season, we get friends who encourage us and assure us of our faith, they tell us that “they know we are loved and that God has chosen us”, we hear a song on the radio, a scripture from a radio show or TV show and sometimes just nature declares His glory and we hear that still quiet voice and we know we are on the right path.  When I was racing too fast and following others I forgot the ribbons for my race- another valuble lesson. I have followed many, got caught up in their journey, jealous and confused about what they had and what I didn’t . But my directions were right there, I just didn’t see them because I was too close to another wanting to follow them and not my own path. You see, even on the same trail, with the same ribbons, we have a different plan. God can handle all of that and we don’t have to fret about it at all. When I thought I would not vet in, that I had pushed it too far, ruined it…..I declared NO! I knew that I knew I would finish, I refused to let doubt get in; I reminded myself I don’t believe in fate or “bad luck”, but faith in God and what He was teaching me. I didn’t think of what could happen, but only saying in advance thank you for the finish, because I trusted the Lord to bring me ALL the way through. He did. I was so encouraged I shared with both my bible study groups and told them that their ribbons were out there.   But to watch for that ribbon,  to believe it was  right around the next bend, the next corner, the next tree, that is faith, and that is where you get to be a part of a miracle that God has in store for you. Is Your marriage falling apart and you want to quit?   There is a ribbon ahead, wait for it while moving a head on that path,  Is your diagnosis is bleak, wait for that confirmation ribbon that comes right when you need it, and not a moment to soon.   As our faith grows I believe our ribbons are spaced out even farther to stretch us and make us grow more in the Lord, trusting and riding by faith and not by sight.  We want a “sign”, Jesus said there would be no sign except that of Jonah, ( three days and nights in the fish) to represent His resurrection.   The people wanted skywriting, a casting of lots, a prophet to lay hands on them, a medium to tell them the future…..all things He said to stay away from and yet we seek those   I want to encourage you that I have been on that path, I have doubted, even stopped and wondered should I turn back, investigate a trail that looked like another way….I am hear to tell you. Keep on keeping on, your ribbon is right up there, God can see it, He is just waiting for you to get there so He can reveal HIs glory to you and reassure you that He loves you and that He is right there with you.  On days I couldn’t, another rider would come along side me to reassure me, on days when you can’t, He sends me to ride with you and confirm the ribbons. What a great and mighty God to show us truths in our everyday life, our hobbies, our jobs, our families.   He has set the paths up, go to the ride meeting and get your map and find out what direction to start….church and His word, it’s all there.  we are in this together.  so blast the magnificent seven music and get ready to ride the path of His word and have the ride of your life
Your sister in Christ
Amy