Barb's Space

Observations about life, family, church...anything else that is on my mind from the perspective that God rules, no matter what

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Location: Indianapolis, IN, United States

I am a 66 year young woman who has changed much in the last few years. I'm single again. I changed jobs twice (learned new skills), had a serious stroke in 2008, "retired" and after getting better started taking up new interests, and am continuing to get more fit. Some things have matured. I've enjoyed watching my three guys grow into men I respect and am proud of. One waited 11 years to have his first birth child. Today I'm a grandma of six (four boys and 2 girls between two families) with a third girl on the way. I have learned to love Jesus even more, and I have regained my sense of adventure. Someone said, "The best is yet to be."--I believe it, if I keep an open mind and heart and keep growing and walking with God.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Changes, Changes-Part 2

One of my sons read my last blog posting about changes and he had a few comments. Always my optimist, his viewpoint was interesting. His comment concerned our outlook on life. He never realized that my feeling of not deserving anything good started in childhood. That being the case, he knows it is taking some time and persistence to change it. He also said that he remembers me questioning him as a young teen one day when he said, "Well you know, all things work together for good to those who love God." I asked him if he really believed it, and he said yes, because God said it.

Now, I've been a Christian for 38 years, and I'm still coming to feel that truth. I've known it and even seen it work to some degree in my life. Though it has been in my mind, I haven't had that truth deeply embedded in my heart. That is so very important because I keep having more history added to my life every day and I never want to end up a bitter old lady, which is what will happen if my heart can't more fully grasp God's truth. 

We also discussed the idea that outlook can make a big difference in how life happens. The Bible says it in Rom 12:2, telling us to let our minds be renewed so we can prove God's will. I am beginning to understand this to mean to let Him help me get rid of the untruths I've believed for years, and not just to begin wanting what He wants. It also alludes to that when it tells us to think on things that are good, lovely, and of good report in Phil 4:8, and when it tells us in Proverbs that as a man thinketh in his heart so is he. My son then said as an example that my husband's second wife has a little different outlook on life than I've had, and we are hoping that can help make their marriage go better. The difference is in her heart, not her head. 

I am also thinking about the attitude I've carried over the years about this son's unshakable optimism. On the surface I have been irritated, wondering how it can be so easy for him to believe (he believes it's a combination of parenting and personality). What I have wanted to know is that his is not just cheerfulness and a positive view of life. I've been somewhat frightened--what will happen when he comes up against something in life that seems immovable? I don't want his faith to come crashing down. I mentioned this to him again, then realized aloud again that when faith is needed and works the most is when the chips are down.

Even though I'm battling with God over this, or maybe especially because of this battle, I believe God is working within me. He is working to make my faith more solid and real, based on Him alone and nothing else in my heart, not just my head. It's been slow going, but I choose to believe I will know more of God and His wonderful love when I come through this. 

I pray the same for you. Battling with God is not wrong--He would much rather we battle with Him than ignore Him. We can be changed through the battle and know Him in new and deeper ways. That's what I want from my battle scars. Do you? On His part, God is often allowing us experiences designed to bring us into and through battle. The question is, will we engage? My answer is a hesitant yes. What about you?

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Changes. Changes-Part 1

On and off for the last few days I have been working at once in a while stuff--overhauling my privacy settings and the things I share on the net--and at getting involved in at least one new site. The one I'm trying is to see what will happen. My high school years weren't filled with friends, but I really remember a few of my classmates and I thought I would try to get in contact. I take the no-pay route, which is a little harder, but I am interested to see what if anything comes from it.

This past year has been really different. I have been working on getting rid of some attitudes that could only hold me back from a good future. That has been interesting, and I'm still working on it, but I can see some changes even now in my life. Going on Classmates is one change. I used to believe I didn't deserve much good. That thought is changing slowly. (It isn't a matter of what I deserve, but of what Jesus wants for me.) I have been a Christian for many years, but I am now learning more about God's love for me--that He loved me even before He created me and that His love for me could never stop. (I knew this intellectually, but now I'm experiencing it more.) I'm learning more about His forgiveness. (He provided complete forgiveness for everything in my past, present and future because He knows every sin I will commit, not only the ones I've already done; He died for every one of them.) It is helping me forgive others more and be willing to try new things. I'm learning how to walk with Him with less and less of a mask. (Since He really knows all my thoughts and feelings as well as my actions, why should I hide them? He loves me anyway, and can only change me if I'm honest.) 

All of these new thoughts boggle my mind, but I'm exploring them in increasing depth and watching how many areas of my life and behavior toward my Lord and others are being touched. I can't forgive well if I don't feel forgiven, and I can't love others or God Himself with unconditional agape love until I have been immersed in it myself. I need more than a head knowledge of these things, and that experiential knowledge is growing to a new level in my life.

I am looking forward, albeit a little hesitantly, to the new year and what more realization will do for my life. God bless you as this year ends and the new one begins, with your first knowing of Him or a greater depth in His love, grace and mercy.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Humility-An Elusive but Vital Gift

Recently our pastor spoke on humility, which is one aspect of the culture needed in our body to see God's kingdom come and stay among us. He said it is elusive, because as soon as we think we have it we become proud of it and it's gone.

How true! The more I try to humble myself, the worse I get--more jealous, more competitive, more prideful, more self-pitying, more antagonistic against people when I should be against evil and for people.... My sin is so pervasive that it is wrapped in the very fiber of my being.

But something else is wrapped in the very fiber of my being since I received Jesus, and that something is grace. I was saved by grace (all I could do was receive it as a gift--that's why the song is called Amazing Grace), and I live by grace. Grace is what teaches my heart to fear and honor God and also teaches me not to fear man. Grace teaches me how to focus on God and what He is doing instead of on myself. I still have a lot to learn in this department, and the only way it works is through a moment by moment receiving of imparted grace.

Why do I prefer morality to grace so often? Morality is me improving myself--then I would earn my way to grace and the goodness of God. But the Bible (and my experience if I'll be honest) tells me I can't even obey without grace. Grace is the only thing that can ever keep me out of religion--away from rules that look good and Christian and separate me from people, because by following them that makes me automatically "better" than others.

In our Sunday morning Bible class, we are studying Habakkuk, which is one of the smallest Old Testament books--only three chapters. In Habakkuk, one of the things the Lord does is talk of the evil doings of the nation He is going to use to discipline Israel's sin. He says they are arrogant, that they have stolen the riches of other nations to build their own, and that they have enslaved the people of these nations to do the building for them. He also speaks of their idolatry. To do this kind of evil, the root seems to be pride. They think they are able to define their own gods rather than look to the one true God. They also think they can use things that are not theirs and can abuse people. Pride allowed them to see God, "things" and other people incorrectly.

Pride is also what allows me to have a wrong image of God, people and things that aren't mine. In different ways I use God, and abuse people and th
ings. My sin looks different than that of others, but it's got the same character.

I think my pastor is right. He says that humility is achieved only as a byproduct of understanding, believing and marveling in the grace of God. and that the only way for things to get better is for us to preach the grace of God till humility just starts to grow in us. As we receive God's grace, we won't be able to do anything but share it. I wrote a poem for Christmas one year that goes along with this. I pray God bless it to you in Jesus' name.

God's Reflection(s)
Barbara A. Irwin
©12-13-91, Revised 12-07-01

Love came down to earth one time
In a stable filled with grime.
God's own Son was born one day
The Father's heart to portray
To self-willed humanity
Steeped in its own vanity.

Jesus, fashioned as a man,
Grew into His Father's plan.
Starting as a baby boy,
He filled Father's heart with joy.
Though God, He learned to obey
Father's will throughout each day.

Grown to perfect adulthood,
Jesus, being Man, understood
About trials, hurt, and testing.
He went through life possessing
Love for God's Word, will, and way;
His commitment did not stray.

Jesus' life was a reflection
Of God's love to perfection.
Father's heart He did express
As He helped those in distress.
He was never far away
From hurt people in dismay.

Yes, He cared for those in need,
But there were some He'd not heed.
These thought they had much wisdom,
Which they held to, causing schism.
(Some are found today in church;
They challenge things of much worth.)

To the end, Jesus was true.
He met needs while others stewed.
Though some resisted to the last,
He went to the cross, steadfast,
Resolved to die for man's sin
So man's new life could begin.

The third day saw Jesus rise
Into heaven through the skies.
Now He prays for us from there,
Wants all to know He does care
About them just as before, and
Wants to come in their heart's door.

Once inside someone there's change;
Jesus wants to rearrange
One's priorities in life.
Out go selfishness and strife,
If that one lets Jesus do
Everything that He wants to.

Then that one reflects God's grace;
You'll see God's love on his face.
He will meet another's need,
For others with Father plead.
God's mirror will be looked upon;
Again God's life is passed on.

We're designed specially to be
Reflectors of our God's glory.
Grace, life, and love are from Him--
He's got a plan to bring in
His Kingdom-- our ways are through!
Now we reflect our God's view.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thank you Part 2

I have been thinking about the stroke experience and have a few more things to add. Right from the very beginning God had help lined up for me. We didn't know help would be needed, but God did. Beside the fact that God has many times healed me directly without human help, I have always had a tremendous fear of all things medical, including doctors and hospitals. That first day of the stroke, my guys spent the day with me (and most days in the hospital). But I was afraid to be alone in the hospital overnight. I have a friend named Kim who was out of work at the time, and she spent the next few nights in my hospital room. (The one night she couldn't someone else could.) What a help and comfort that was.

Then later when I was at a friend's home for six weeks, Kim was able to spend a week with me while they went on vacation. She was excellent at compassion and caregiving and helped me with speech and walking some. Those areas were very helpful, and without this things would have been much harder.

I also had visitors--my mom and her friend would come, and my sis and her husband, my then pastor, his wife, and others. Also when I got into my new apartment, some people helped by sending premade meals. All of these things were on top of the things mentioned in the last article, and there were other things I'm sure I forgot to mention.

I am so thankful. Concerning relationships, whatever we know how to do can be a blessing to someone. Even the people who only visited or called once were a real blessing. They helped me know I was loved. Nothing we do for others from our heart is too little or unimportant, and if we do those things we are prompted to do, we are filling an important spot. When God orchestrates what He calls us to do, needs are comprehensively met and bring Him glory and show His love.

Let's do what God prompts, no matter how little or big it seems to us, and we will see how He weaves it into His plan in the days to come.

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