Friday, April 5, 2013

Catching Up (or falling behind)

I apologize for not wrapping up all the wonderful things that God has done in my life last year and this year.  There is no way I'll remember everything, but I'm going to start with the big items and God will have to fill in the rest.

My back is healed, praise Jesus!  That was the most excruciating experience of my life.  I now have a lifelong prescription of exercise to prevent it from happening again.  What's ironic is that I should be overjoyed that I don't have to take any medicine to feel better.  I just have to get outside, enjoy God's creation, and move my body.  However, this year I have been battling with myself to do this.  I have walked some, but it was only when the pain was increasing daily.  As soon as the pain went away, I stopped walking again.

God was convicting me more and more.  I finally confessed my sin of laziness and procrastination and asked God to help me wake up early to walk before work.  The next morning, I woke up even more tired than the night before.  This lasted for a week!  Then I came down with a nasty cold that sapped every ounce of energy I had.  After 2 weeks of pure exhaustion, congestion, and countless tissue boxes - I became angry.  I asked God, "Why did you let this happen when I was finally ready to obey you?"  His gentle response was, "You didn't exercise when you were healthy either."  Lord, I am still struggling with this, please help me to go out for a walk daily!

The other late breaking news for 2013 is a new My One Word.  Initially, I chose Focus.  I believe I blogged on that, so you know my reasons for picking that fine word.  However, God distinctly gave me another word.  Soon after I chose Focus and published my one word on (, one of my dear friends and mentors changed her word.  *gasp*  Changing your word after publishing it?? Are we allowed to do such a thing??  Duh.  Yes.

The word God initially gave me (before Focus) was Faith.  However, after all the craziness of 2012, I thought, "I don't need more faith.  I trust God to take care of me and to supply all my needs.  What I need is more FOCUS so I can finish things I start."  However, the word "Faith" kept coming back to me, especially after I realized I could change my word!

I kept praying because I wasn't going to change my word unless God confirmed it.  Oh, did He!

1. Several close friends were sharing their current life situations with me and I kept thinking that all they needed was a little faith!  Why were they giving up so easily?  Didn't they know that a miracle could be right around the corner?  Didn't they know that we serve a big God?  Didn't they know, "We can do everything through Christ, who gives us strength"?  (Philippians 4:13)

THEN, I had a brilliant idea!  I was going to pick "Faith" for my word so I could have faith for my friends!  How humble!  How self-less!  Right??

Not two seconds later, God put me in my place.  He reminded me exactly where I was lacking Faith in my life.  My hair loss.  Yes, you read that right.  I am a 30-something female and losing my hair.  God immediately gave me this verse:
Matthew 17:20 (NLT) "You don't have enough faith," Jesus told them.  "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain,'Move from here to there,' and it would move.  Nothing would be impossible."
I will not be posting a picture of it, but please trust me that this hair loss is noticeable.  My scalp shows through, there is a significant amount of space between my hair, and a lot of hair comes out in the shower.  Only a few people have ever dared to confront me about it and I was crushed when they did.  It is humiliating.  For years, I refused to talk about it.  It was staring everyone in the face, but I was in 100% denial that it was there.  I was so ashamed and tried everything in my power to fix it.  I've gone to the determatologist, checked hormone levels through blood tests, used Rogaine, massaged my scalp, and even stopped straightening and blow drying my hair.

2. Then, God's next lesson in the search for my one word.  "Focus" relies on my effort.  "Faith" relies on God's effort.  

It has been so hard for me to trust God about losing my hair.  In most areas where I've trusted Him, He has answered my prayers in a relatively quick fashion. If the prayer wasn't answered completely, I would at least see some progress.  Not so with my hair.  If one month it seemed to be growing back, the next month it all seemed to shed at the same time and I feel like I'm starting all over again.

3. Finally, God revealed the last confirmation on my new word for 2013. Which was another very true, and sobering reality - my hair loss is a visible flaw because I try so hard to hide all my other flaws.  Please know that just writing those words hurts.  It is not something I would have ever come up with on my own.  It literally made me flinch when the thought ran through my mind, but the depth of the truth it held made me stop and face it.

I realized that just like I was trying to hide my hair loss, I had a hard time admitting my weaknesses to others.  As if I could somehow keep them in the dark.  But, I slowly began talking to people about my hair.  I returned to a former hair dresser that didn't make me feel rediculous for trying Rogaine.  I talked to my mom about my feelings and what God was teaching me.  Then, when it was time to start discussing our one words for 2013 in our small group, I stepped out in FAITH and told my small group about it.  A few kind women said they hadn't noticed before.  Regardless, I know that I was the one truly in denial.  I know it was visible and I was the one trying to hide it.

Amazingly, ever since I've been more open about it, I don't notice it as much anymore.  It was as if my hair loss had a hold on me.  I was drowning in shame and I had no idea.  All it took was talking about it.  By speaking about something humiliating, I was able to shed God's light on it and remove the power of darkness that it held over me.  I faced my fear of people seeing my scalp and then talking about it behind my back.  As soon as it was brought to light, my fears faded away.  If I am talking about it to them, why would I care if they talk about it behind my back?

God, in His goodness, gave me Joel 2:25 as a promise.  I don't normally pray over Bible verses, especially when the promise is something completely unrelated to my circumstances.  But when this verse popped into my head, I prayed it one Sunday morning.  I didn't know the reference at the time, but I prayed, "Lord, please restore the years the locusts have eaten."  On my way to church, I saw a license plate that said, "JOEL225".  I immediately remembered the verse that I prayed and I knew!  I checked as soon as I was parked and sure enough, it was my verse from earlier that morning!  Here is what it says:
Joel 2:25 (NIV)  "I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten - the great locus and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm." 
Now, I don't know why God lists 4 different kinds of locusts (neither did my Bible footnotes), but I do know that God meant that He would restore what has been taken away.  My hair is growing back in.  While I don't have a think luscious head of hair, I am seeing progress.  Faith doesn't guarantee instant results.  Faith involves handing over control to God to fulfill His promises - in His time.  Therefore, I will keep praying and thanking God for restoring what the locusts have eaten.

If I have FAITH as small as a mustard seed, I can say to this mountain (a.k.a. hair loss), 'Move from here to there,' and it will move.  Nothing is impossible with God.

Does something in your life have you held down by shame?  

Have you tried bringing it to the light by sharing it with someone else?  

Will you consider taking your small seed of Faith and move some mountains with me?

Please share your thoughts (or mountains) below in the comments!  I would love to hear from you!

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