It’s WHO You Know

Today marks the end of a significant chapter in my world.  Today was my last day of employment at Pick N’ Save.  Big deal, right?  Well, actually… yes.  It is a very big deal.    After being a stay at home mom for about a decade, I had made the decision to get a part time job.  Very quickly that part time job turned to full time.  As my hours changed, so the responsibilities changed just as fast.

For the past four years I have enjoyed becoming part of the grown up, working world.  What was meant to be a little part time cashiering job just to get me out of the house and make a little money had morphed into something much bigger.  I went from part time cashier to full time management in a fairly short time.  I was in a new place, making new friends and learning new skills.  I remember the night before I started this new job.  I was so nervous!  Can you imagine that?!?  I’m a grown woman who worked many years for other companies, owned my own successful business for a time and ran a pretty smooth household with three kids born in four years…  And I was nervous about being a part time cashier at the local grocery store?!  But I was.  It had been a long time since I had to answer to anyone outside of my husband and Jesus.  In recent months though, it became more apparent that I had climbed as high as my education and position would allow.  So the search for something new began.

I’m a firm believer in the old saying, “it’s not what you know… it’s who you know”.  Well that certainly proved true for me.  On a whim, I put a post on Facebook that I  was in the market for a new job.  That post led to an interview… which turned into my new job.  I am incredibly excited to announce that I will be starting my new job on Monday as the new Executive/Administrative Assistant to the C.E.O. of UW Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Madison.

I have the honor of singing on the worship team at church every now and then.  The CEO of UW Health Rehabilitation Hospital happens to be married to a guy who plays bass guitar on the worship team along with coordinating other worship events.  I had the privilege of meeting my new boss at a couple different church related events.  Had we not met through church, she and I wouldn’t have become Facebook friends.  I’d have never known about this job opportunity.  I certainly would have never landed the interview!

As my new boss, MK and I were chatting, she told me that she rarely gets on Facebook.  But that evening, she logged on and there was my post about looking for a job!  I thought about that for a bit and came to a pretty cool conclusion…  It’s true that it’s not what you know… it’s who you know… And I know Jesus.  Not only am I blessed with a new, better, higher paying, more vacation time given, use my brain more, use my talents more kind of job…  But I have the blessing of a commute to and from work.  Don’t shake your head here.  Let me explain.  I get to have almost two hours every day of uninterrupted time to pray, listen to the Word, hear a good teaching, etc…  I haven’t had that kind of “God time” in a long time.

I find myself in a familiar place of nervousness as I gear up to start this new job.  As I left the old behind today, there were lots of tears, hugs and well wishes.  I’m nervous to leave the familiar and embark on a new adventure.  But believing… knowing that Jesus has His hand in all of this turns that nervousness into anticipation and excitement.  I’m excited to see how this job will be a blessing to me and my family.  I’m excited to see how I will be a blessing to MK and all those at the rehabilitation hospital. But mostly, I’m excited to spend time with the one who holds it all together… the one who cares about every detail of my life…  the one who orchestrated this amazing new job just so we could spend more time together… That’s my Jesus.

Hyper-Grace

cropped-grace-banner.jpgI recently read an article posted on Facebook about “hyper-grace”. If you know that term then you know it’s a bad word. There are preachers out there who preach on the completeness and fullness of grace (nothing more to do, as Jesus did it all)… And there are those that refute that teaching with messages on having a balance of grace and law. The latter calls those grace teachings “hyper-grace”. I have read and heard plenty of these types of articles before. But this one named names. It was a very long article about one of my favorite preachers. It spoke of this preacher in a very negative light. Even going so far as to recommend (although out of sarcasm) book burnings. Instantly my defenses shot up. It was all I could do to post a *polite* response, which basically said that the author of that article didn’t know his hiney from a hole in the ground. So I started digging in again getting all fueled up for yet another good debate. But this time it didn’t feel fun. It felt exhausting. I thought to myself “Is this what it means to fight the good fight… or to run my race?”.
I got up from my computer to go get myself ready for the day. As I was cleaning up, I asked God for His wisdom in all this. I do that frequently… I ask for His wisdom. (Whether I listen or not is a whole different story  ) God spoke. But it wasn’t the message I thought I’d hear. He asked me a question. He said “Who are you defending… Me or you?”. I realized that, while my heart was to defend the beautiful, perfect grace of Jesus Christ, my head was more concerned with being right. Now, for the record… I’m on the path I’m on and in the place I’m in spiritually because I believe with my whole heart that God has led me there. And so I hold my position on His grace firm. But as I do, more often than I’d care to admit, I took my eyes off Jesus. I said “If it’s you Lord, call me to you… let me walk on the water”. He said come. But instead of one step at a time, eyes fixed on Him, walking in peace… I jumped onto a jet ski and let ‘er rip.
And then… this is what I heard:
“If you seek ME you will find ME… Don’t seek points to defend. I am capable of my own defense. And if you seek ME first, all these things that you are believing for will be added to you.” Woh… talk about a Selah moment.
So here is what I know… I know that there is a God and that He loves. I know that He loves us so much that He made a sacrifice I know I could never make for a bunch of sinners… just so we would have a way back to Him. I know that if we seek HIM, we will find HIM. I know that I don’t know it all… but neither do you… and neither does the writer of that article I mentioned… and neither does my favorite preacher… and neither (well… you get the picture). I know that when Peter started to sink and asked for Jesus to save him, HE did. And so I know HE will always pick me up too. One of these days my jet ski will run out of gas. I’m believing today is that day.  A pastor friend of mine once prayed over me and said that God was showing him a picture of me as a little girl, surrounded by thousands of puzzle pieces, frustratingly trying to fit them together. *sigh* One more piece down… only a few thousand to go.

A New Song For Christmas

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Fill in the blank… Joy to the world, ___ ____ ___ ____! Oh holy night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night __ ___ ____ _______ _____! One more… Hark the herald angels sing, _____ __ ___ _______ ____!

You knew every word and probably sang along… didn’t you? I know I did! What do all three of these songs (and plenty other classic Christmas songs) have in common? They all spoke of Jesus? Yes. They are all beloved, nostalgic songs we’ve known forever? Yes. We have never paid attention to what the songs are actually saying and don’t know what they really mean? Ooh… yep! That’s the right answer. Admit it. If I asked you right now, without looking up lyrics or researching songs, could you tell me an overview or summary of what any one of those songs are talking about? Don’t tell me “Jesus”. We all know that! But really… What are they about?  If you’re like most (and like me), you’d have to honestly answer with an “I don’t really know”.

It was as an adult that I made the decision to be a Christ follower.  That particular year, on an early December afternoon while doing a bit of Christmas decorating at church, someone turned on some Christmas music to really set the festive mood.  Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience.  The songs began to play… And in typical fashion, I started to sing.  I couldn’t have been halfway through the first line of the first song played when it hit me like a ton of bricks.  Those lyrics meant something profound.  They weren’t just pretty holiday tunes.  They were songs of gratefulness and worship to the King of kings.  These songs were born out of the souls of those who recognized and understood the immense gravity of what the birth of Jesus launched into action meant.  Joy to the world, the Lord has come!  Let Earth receive her King!  Oh holy night, the stars are brightly shining.  It is the night of our dear Saviors birth!  Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king!  It was as if I was hearing every one of those songs for the very first time.

As each song played, I sobbed in total awe and gratefulness.  What a thing Jesus did!  I don’t recall if I managed to get very much decorating done that day or not.  But one thing I will never forget…  Jesus Himself gave me my first Christmas gift as a new believer… He gave me a new song for Christmas.  And that new song filled my heart so full of gratitude and love that every song… no matter how many times I’d sung it before… became a new song.  The bonus and beauty there is that the songs have never ever become “old” to me again.  It really was the gift that keeps giving.

If you’ve never read the lyrics to those classic songs before, I recommend it.  Don’t sing them…  Just read.  Let them speak to your heart from the place they were created.  Ask God to open them up to you in a light you may have never thought to see them in.  You’ll be blessed.  I know I am.

Merry Christmas to you all.

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Learning To Ride

StepsLittleKidAs many of you know, I have a tumultuous history of dealing with hormone induced anxiety. Just when I think I finally have it under control… *insert visual of an erupting volcano here*. Like many in my situation, I’ve prayed, sought the advice and treatment of doctors, taken medications… both prescription and supplemental, and much more. I’d stand on my head out in the snow wearing nothing but a swimming suit while singing the ABC’s backwards if I thought it would work! If there is a method out there to treat this thing, I’ve tried it. (Yes… even acupuncture.) Like I said, just when I’m feeling confident, that’s the precise moment when it feels quite literally like all of Hell broke loose.

This past month was especially challenging to me. I don’t honestly know why. I’ve been doing all the right things. I take my supplements faithfully. I have cut sugars, wheat flour, processed foods and otherwise everything I thought I loved out of my diet. (Four months now and still going strong!) I’m losing weight, drinking more water than I ever thought I could, and in general just being healthier. So why? Why am I still struggling… and struggling more than I ever have before?

This morning, I had the house to myself. So I decided it was time to put on some good worship music and just worship. I don’t mean just sing along to my favorite songs. I’m talking about the “from the depths of my heart, I WILL be thankful for Jesus” kind of worship. The kind of worship where through the tears you can barely get the words out. After a little while, with music still going on, I went back to my chores around the house. And in an instant, I saw in my spirit a picture of a Dad helping his little girl learn to ride a bike. At once, the Spirit of God spoke to my heart and said “What do you think I meant when I said I’d never leave you or forsake you?”.

In just a few words and one precious image, God showed me how we’re doing this life together. I’m trying to learn how to ride this life bike and He’s holding onto it, keeping me steady. He’s promised to never leave me alone on this bike. But all I’ve been able to focus on are my scraped knees. You may ask (as I have), why the scraped knees? How did that happen? Well… God said He’d never leave us. But He didn’t say that He’d force us to accept His help. Our eyes are fixed on Jesus as we get on the bike. But as soon as there’s a bumpy section on the road, we forget whos strong hand is holding us up. Sometimes we even go into a panic and try to navigate the bumps on our own. We were never meant to handle the bumps in our own ability. So sometimes we end up with scraped knees. He doesn’t leave us during those times. But He does honor our decision to try and go it alone. Just like the child who tells her dad to let go of the bike… and then falls two seconds later. The dad is still there to help pick his child up. If only that child knew that He was holding on for her own good. God is willing to hold on for life.

Oh sure, I prayed and sought God for wisdom and answers to this hormone hell I’ve found myself in. So it’s not like I didn’t start out on the right path. But I came to the realization that my faith wasn’t in God. It was in all the things I was doing… diet, supplements, doctors, etc… I need to go on record here that I love doctors, modern medicine and the like. My point isn’t that I shouldn’t be dieting or getting solid medical advice. I should. But it should be because, as my eyes are fixed on the one who’s teaching me to ride this life bike, He tells me to wear knee pads. He’s smart like that and knows just what I need.

Merry Christmas

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One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Mary Did You Know”.  The song itself speaks of some wonderful things that Jesus would do… (walk on water, heal a blind man, save our sons and daughters, etc…). Can you even imagine? Mary must have known, at least in part, what she was in store for. She may not have known the details. But I’m quite sure she would have guessed big and great things were in store.

A few years ago, God showed me a picture of Mary holding her belly full with child. Did she know that this amazing child she carried was going to suffer the tortures that He suffered and ultimately be put to death? If she had known that, would she have agreed? God asked me a powerful question then. Would I be willing to carry and give birth to my son, knowing that when he was a little older that I would send him off to war? Would I do that knowing that my son would be sacrificed in this war… in order to save the enemy? Would I raise him knowing that it’s all so he could be tortured and then die?

Mary may or may not have known what her son would soon face. But God knew. He knew full well, down to the tiniest detail what His only son would have to endure. He knew every tiny drop of blood that would violently fall from His son’s body. He knew the intense pain and agony that His son would have to experience… And He thinks I’m worth that… you’re worth that.

If there was ever a thought that would bring me to my knees in complete and total humble praise, that’s it. God saw me in all of my brokenness and sinfulness and said it was worth it to Him to save me. How could I do anything but serve, praise and honor the one who died for me. He knew my name. He knew that Terri Ann Wedner Sorenson would eventually accept the gift He was offering on that cross. And knowing that there was even one soul that would be saved as a result of His sacrifice was good enough for Him.

I will have an amazing Christmas this year. Trust me when I say it’s not because of my crazy relatives, gifts I get, gifts I give, food I eat, or any other reason. I’m going to have an amazing Christmas this year because I am knocked off my feet when I think of the one gift, the only gift that is priceless to me… my savior… my Jesus. Merry Christmas

Happy Halloween (The King Of Oxymorons)

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This post is not intended in any way to be a criticism or condemnation to anyone who disagrees with the content.  Many have asked why I choose not to celebrate Halloween. This post is the answer to that question.

Happy Halloween

Happy:
Full of enjoyment and pleasure

Halloween:

The last night of the year in the old Celtic calendar, where it was Old Year’s Night, a night for witches… a night for death.

October… simultaneously my most and least favorite month on the calendar.  I look forward to the change of season.  The beautiful colors in God’s creation are nothing short of breathtaking this time of year.  I’m also a big fan of pumpkin spice anything!  October ushers in a host of goodness.  As a Christian mom, October also means gearing up for my annual fight against Halloween.

My kids are old enough now to understand why we don’t celebrate Halloween.  But it wasn’t always that way.  It’s quite a task to reason with a child who sees the fun of dress up and free candy.  But somehow we managed.  Despite our neighbors, schools, family, and even some churches celebrating, we managed.

The earliest Halloween celebrations were held by the Druids in honor of Samhain, lord of the dead. This is the day that the pagans believed to be the most magical and spiritual day of the year. To scare off the evil spirits that Samhain was assembling, the Celts would wear masks. It was a day of dedication and sacrifice, (animal and human), to their god of death.

“…do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.”  Deuteronomy 18:9-11

 “…the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.”  1 Corinthians 10:20 

Today, Halloween is considered to be the highest day of worship and sacrifice in the satanic church.  Are you thinking “happy” Halloween yet?  The argument could be made that normal, regular people don’t celebrate like that. I said the same thing for years until I took a deeper look into the “harmless” ways we, as normal functioning members of society, celebrate this holiday.

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

2 Corinthians 6:14 

Look around. As Halloween gets closer, you’ll see homes, department stores, public schools, many local businesses, and practically every channel on TV dressing up for Halloween. Everywhere you look you’ll find witches, ghosts, goblins, demonic figures, cartoon images of Satan, jack o lanterns, ghouls, etc., all in the name of good holiday fun.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness…”  Isaiah 5:20 

We have called what is evil “good.”  We know that there is nothing “happy” about Halloween. Yet, commercially speaking, Halloween is second only to Christmas. According to sales statistics alone, we’ve clearly made the darkness our light.

“Avoid every kind of evil.”  1 Thessalonians 5:22 

 God doesn’t tell us to avoid every kind of evil except the kind that seems fun or harmless to us. Evil is evil, no matter what commercial package it comes in. I once heard a friend say that you can slap some lipstick on a pig, but that doesn’t change what it is.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”  Ephesians 5:8-11

There is nothing good and righteous about witches, demons, ghosts, etc. Hold those symbols in God’s light. What do you see? This view of our world through “God-goggles” is the standard that we, as Christians, are called to adhere to.

“You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.”

1 Corinthians 10:21 

 I praise God for pumpkin pie, falling leaves, hay rides, chilly air, and anything else He has given us with the glorious autumn season. However, I believe God’s made one thing perfectly clear to me…Halloween was never part of that gift.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”  Joshua 24:15 

Married For Keeps

Married For Keeps

Have you ever embarked on a journey you know was divinely ordered? Have you ever gotten to the middle of that something only to wonder,  “what now”? Welcome to my world. A few years back, I started to hear God speaking to my heart that my time at the church that my family and I attended was coming to a close. I even knew which new church He was leading me into. Being the quick learner and immediate responder that I am, it was about two more years until my family and I officially followed that call. Leaving the only church we had ever really known was a huge move for us. Emotionally, it was harder to do than we ever anticipated. Many toes felt unnecessarily stepped on as we made our departure. Sadly, our move was not met with the joyous yet tearful goodbye we had hoped for. There was no celebratory send off or even warm embraces and well wishes. Our move was met mostly with contempt, disbelief and frankly… some really un-Godly behavior. Surely, with a move that difficult, God must have had something colossal in mind for us.

In that previous church, I had been quite heavily involved with multiple ministries for more than a decade. I knew in my spirit that I wasn’t to immediately jump into anything at our new church. I assumed it was to keep myself available for whatever major ministry thing God had planned for me.   But as each week passed in our new church home, (and nothing mind blowing was happening), I grew more and more discouraged. Had we really heard God? Were we really on the path He set out for us? If we were, I wasn’t seeing why. A friend asked how we were feeling about our church move. I shared that I kind of felt what I can only imagine an empty nester feels. I had spent so much time and energy taking care of the kids (God’s kids… aka the church) that I forgot what it was to have a relationship with my husband (God). Now I was in a place of nothing to do… no ministry… just me and Him… And I couldn’t think of a more awkward and lonely place to be.

I remember what it was like when I first met Him (Jesus). I think back on what it was like to be in love with Him as a new believer. There wasn’t a single thing I felt like He couldn’t handle or be trusted with. It wasn’t one sided either… I just knew how in love with me He was. He would do the most amazing things for me… miraculous things! I could physically feel His very presence completely enveloping me. Young love… it’s truly beautiful.

I don’t know when the switch happened… But at some point I stopped being His “bride”. At some point I became “the wife”. We’re married. There’s no doubt about that. I said yes. He said yes. It’s a done deal. Jesus promised in His Word that nothing can separate us. I believe Him. Somewhere in that marriage, I think I stopped paying attention to Him. I started paying more attention to the “things” of marriage… work, kids, responsibilities, etc… If you asked me if I loved Jesus, I would have said absolutely yes. But I’d be lying if I said I was still “in love”.  I prayed about what to do in our new church. Give me something… anything to do! But I heard nothing. There were no prompts or direction from God to join any existing ministries or start any new ones. Just an awkward silence. Face to face. Me and Jesus. And then it clicked.

I was in the right church. I had heard God. We really were on His right path. He missed me. Jesus missed me. The creator of all that is missed me. So in His divine wisdom, He called me out of my distractions and into a place of having nothing but Him… Because He missed me. I’ll be really honest. It was incredibly awkward for me at first. I didn’t know how to talk to Him. I didn’t know how to spend time with Him. You want to know the beautiful thing in all of that? I got the opportunity to fall in love all over again. Don’t get me wrong… It wasn’t as easy as the first time. I’m well aware that the fault in that is all mine. I also know that I’ve only scratched the surface of rekindling my love for Jesus. I fail often in my efforts. But knowing… just knowing that He was willing to spend years of setting me on this journey back to Him. He loves me that much. I’d say that’s pretty colossal… wouldn’t you?

“I have loved you with an everlasting love. Out of faithfulness I have drawn you close. And so it shall be again…” Jeremiah 31:3-4

 

Noxzema Smells Like Jesus

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Random thoughts… Triggered memories… Maybe they were brought to the surface because of a sound, or a taste. Maybe from an old TV rerun or song on the radio. Today, mine was from a smell.

As I was in front of the mirror putting my new makeup on, I came across a very familiar scent. This was a new bottle of foundation, so I wasn’t immediately sure what the smell was. I knew it was familiar, and I knew that I loved it. But I couldn’t place it in my memory. So I continued on with my daily routine. As there was no one around but me for a change, my mind was given the privilege of wandering. I began thinking about my daughter, Faith. I was thinking of all the little ways Faith and I show each other love. One thing we love to do is hide little notes and gifts for each other to find. No real money goes into these gifts, but a whole lot of love does. There are moments that only Faith and I share… Little things to show that she’s important to me and that I’m important to her.  She even tells me all the time how beautiful and precious I am to her. Can you imagine that?!? My child calls me beautiful and precious!

I thought to myself, she gets that from me. I don’t say that with arrogant pride. It’s just how it works. Children will mimic their parents in thoughts, words and actions.

As I continued daydreaming, as if a light switched on, I remembered the smell. Noxzema. Something in my makeup smells exactly like Noxzema. My mom used to use that face cream on a pretty regular basis. One precious and random memory I have with my mom is putting on Noxzema together. I remember it painted on her face… and then painted on mine. So insignificant. So random. So full of love. That was one way my own mom shared a moment with me. Noxzema smells like mom… Noxzema smells like love.

I’m so blessed to have a mom who set an example for me of little acts of love.  She took the time and had the thought to bring me into her world and leave her private space to share with me those moments that won’t be forgotten. I’m even more blessed that my mom is still a big part of my life. She continues to bless me in ways I couldn’t begin to list. I’m quite sure that she picked up a thing or two from her own mother. Where did it all start?

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

Jesus loves us. It’s not about anything we could ever say or do, good or bad. We don’t earn it.  We can’t buy it.  We don’t even deserve it.  But He loves us. And it’s the reason we can love. I’ve said before that children will mimic their parents. I’m not just blessed to have parents worth mimicking… I’m blessed to have a heavenly Father who started it all. Maybe your story is different than mine.  Maybe your own parents were less than loving.  Forgive them.  They may have had struggles you know nothing about.  But one thing we do have in common…  We have a Heavenly Father worth mimicking. Jesus showed us how. He set the example.  Love first… love with all your heart… be willing to sacrifice… meet them where they’re at… don’t condemn…  create moments that will last forever…  Love like Jesus.

Passing The “Stress Test”

Stethoscope Heart Shape
Stethoscope Heart Shape

Today was a fairly pivotal day for me. I had the unique opportunity today to see if my heart would pass a stress test… twice! To give you a fair picture of what I’m talking about, I need to back up a bit.

A little more than two weeks ago I started experiencing some minor “heart” symptoms. It kind of felt like there was a big weight sitting right in the middle of my chest. That pressure was accompanied by some mild anxiety. Initially, I paid no attention to it, as these symptoms sometimes appear in my body when my hormone levels get a little goofy. I know what it is, and know how to effectively make it right. No problem! But this time the symptoms didn’t go away like usual.

Just a few days ago, I awoke to a pain so severe right between my shoulder blades that it actually knocked the wind out of me. The pain radiated through my chest and did not subside. Naturally, this happened as I was home alone with my two youngest children. I thought I could just ignore these symptoms and they would go away. So I got up and made breakfast for the kids. But not only did the symptoms not subside… They actually got worse. I tried to call my husband, who was away at softball practice, with no success. At this point I had gone into full out panic mode. My heart began racing out of control. That, combined with the back pain and chest pressure, led me to believe I was actually having a heart attack. Not knowing what else to do, and not wanting my children to see their mother fall to the ground and die right in front of them, I grabbed the phone, dialed 911 and ran into another room where my kids couldn’t see me. The nice man on the other end of the phone talked me through the panic and pain. He graciously stayed on the phone with me until the paramedics arrived.

After running a battery of tests, the EMT’s determined that there was no immediate threat. I was not actually having a heart attack. They did, however, strongly recommend that I go straight to the E.R.. The paramedics stayed with me until we finally got a hold of my husband, Neal. Within a short time, he was home. Taking the EMT’s advice, Neal took me to the emergency room. We spent the greater portion of the day there having multiple tests done, only to be told after several hours that there was nothing wrong… go home. The instructions were to follow up with my primary care physician… Which I did. My primary doctor ordered a nuclear stress test for me. And that brings me to the present.

While the pain in my back had subsided quite a bit over the past few days, the chest pressure hadn’t. I could barely sleep last night, because I was so nervous about taking this stress test. You have to know that this is one test you don’t EVER want to fail. My nerves were absolutely getting the best of me. With frequent episodes of panic and anxiety, it was really too hard to tell if what I was experiencing was in my heart or in my head. Either way, I was mentally preparing myself for the worst. I made sure to pray over my kids and give them extra big hugs and kisses as I shipped them out the door for school this morning.

While experiencing yet another bout of anxiety, I heard God speak very clearly to me. “What are you so afraid of?”

REALLY GOD?!? Have You NOT been paying attention to what’s going on with me lately?!? What am I so afraid of?!?

It was quite obvious what I was afraid of… What if I die? What if Neal has to raise the kids without me? What if God wasn’t willing to help me because I did this to myself? I opened the door to fear and allowed a stronghold of the enemy to manifest more powerfully than I was believing God’s stronghold on me is. What if, what if, what if!?! There are so many “what if’s”. Too many to count. That, God, is what I’m so afraid of.

And then I heard it again… “So what are you so afraid of?”

I thought about it for a bit. If I tell Him what I’m afraid of, and He asks me again… I must be missing something. What if I die? Well, I’ve received Jesus as my savior. So I’ll be in the most magnificent place with the most magnificent person. I’ll be in Heaven with Jesus. What if Neal has to raise the kids without me? Well, Neal is an amazing, attentive, smart, loving dad. He’s totally capable of doing a spectacular job of raising them. I have total confidence in him. What if God wasn’t willing to help me because I did this to myself? I opened the door to fear and allowed a stronghold of the enemy to manifest more powerfully than I was believing God’s stronghold on me is. Hmmmm… ouch. What if that’s true? I’m in big trouble.

It became apparent to me that this was the true root of my fear. What if Satan was stronger than God? Oh, make no mistake. I know he isn’t. But what if he is, only in my world, because it’s where my faith was. I was crossing my fingers, praying in tongues, quoting scripture, and doing anything else I could think of to make things right. None of it seemed to be working though. My faith wasn’t in any of those things. My faith was in the devil’s ability to walk right through the door I opened for him. After all, if I didn’t have a reason to question the health of my heart, the devil couldn’t convince me it was broken. Right? So this is my fault. I deserve whatever I get.

A couple hours later while sitting in the waiting room at the hospital to have my stress test, as yet another bout of anxiety was settling in, I prayed. I admitted that I was sitting in that room questioning the health of my heart because I had taken the gift of this temple and made light of it. I admitted to succumbing to the lies of the enemy that I deserve the struggle. Someone has to pay for my past mistakes. I was ready for God to look at me with a “Yes you did, but maybe I will clean up your mess… again” kind of look. But that’s not what I saw in my spirit. I saw Psalm 46.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress

Nothing but Grace. Nothing but love. Nothing but comfort and assurance. Of all the lies I had believed, one was actually a half truth. Someone did have to pay for all my past mistakes. That someone was Jesus. Paid in full.

Today I had two stress tests to pass… The first spiritual and the second physical. I am happy to say that I believe I’ve passed both. J The anxiety I’ve been experiencing has all but disappeared. I won’t actually have the doctors’ report about my time on the treadmill today for a few days yet. But it doesn’t matter. God is my refuge and my strength. He is my ever present help in trouble. I will not fear. I will be still and know that He is God.

Just For Me

just for me

Just the other day I heard one of my favorite songs play on my computer. The song is “Precious Lord” sung by Mike Farris. Precious Lord is a nice song in its’ own right. But when Mike Farris got a hold of it… woh! That song totally rocks! It’s especially wonderful because God orchestrated that song with that artist just for me. It’s true!

My husband and I had each grown up with a smattering of religion. But thinking back to when we were new Christians, it was our first go at taking Jesus seriously. Saying yes to Jesus was the easy part for both of us. The tough part though, especially for Neal, was finding our way in this new world. We were both a product of secular living. So breaking up with the world didn’t necessarily come easy.

I immediately took to the local Christian radio station. Little by little, Christian music was replacing the secular stuff, until I wasn’t listening to anything else. I couldn’t seem to get Neal to switch though. It wasn’t a dislike of the Christian message in the songs. It was a pure dislike of the top twenty playlist that the one and only local Christian station would play. For a few months I did my very best to expose him to as much Christian music as I could. He really wasn’t having any of it.

…So I prayed.

I gave up trying to force Christian music on Neal. Instead, I prayed that God would provide some Christian music for Neal that he would actually want to hear. I wasn’t really sure how that could happen, since the local station kept primarily to their top twenty list that my husband did not like! Neal and I have always had different likes when it comes to music. I was into Barry Manilow… Neal was into some band called the Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies. (Seriously… what kind of name is the “Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies” anyhow?!?) Not exactly the same styles. But it was no longer my problem. I gave it to God.

One morning, as Neal was flipping through the radio stations, he heard something that made him stop. The local Christian radio station was playing their “pre-morning show song”. He liked it so much that he tuned in more than once to that station in the morning as they would play it each day. Finally, Neal decided to find out who this one and only artist was that he liked so much on this station. Guess who it was…

Mike Farris, formerly of the “Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies”, singing Precious Lord.

Turns out that Mr. Mike Farris went and got saved and recorded some AMAZING Christian music… which our local Christian station used a track from for their pre-morning show song… which happened to be playing at the very moment Neal scanned through the stations… which was all perfectly ordained and coordinated by our God who answered the prayer of a wife who wanted her husband to be blessed, but was blessed in return by now having a new household favorite that everyone, even our kids love to listen to. See… I told you… Just for me. J

by Terri Sorenson

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