In the Middle of My Pain

In the middle of my pain ….

 

The emotions are overwhelming, like the roar of high tide.  They kick at peace, scream at hope, and laugh at joy.

 

The tears flow like a storm in the summer, heavy then scattered, as the emotions ebb and flow.  They may stop for a moment, but they are never far from being expelled again upon the day.

 

And it feels like being pushed out of a plane at 30,000 feet … without a parachute.

Complete hopelessness.

Complete desperation.

Complete sadness.

In the Middle of My Pain.jpg

I can see God beyond the desert of heart break and hopelessness, but I cannot reach Him.  I am too caught up in the storm, being thrashed and toss, to find the place of escape to run to Him.  I am trapped within my thoughts, a prisoner of grief and anger and hopelessness.

 

I cry out.  Hoping for release.  Praying for escape.  Longing for peace.

 

And then I feel Him come to me, reaching out His gentle hand with great compassion.

He wants to help me.

He wants to hold me.

He wants to heal me.

 

Right where I am.

As the storm rages.

As the skies boom.

As the rivers overflow.

 

Yet will I let go of the storm cloud I suddenly find myself grasping tightly?  Yes, I look down at my hand and find it closed against God’s goodness.  I find my mind struggling to insert His grace into any crack or crevice … but my heart is too wounded to do anything but shove it aside.  I am too consumed with justification to see His peace wanting to take me over.

 

I am a slave to my emotions.

I am a whipping boy of my thoughts.

I am a prison of my circumstances.

 

But thank God there is always another way!

 

Because in the middle of my pain the choice is always mine.

Stay and sulk.

Or release and renew.

 

I can continue to hold onto the storm that wants to submerge me and drown me.  Or I can stand still, take a deep breath, and trust God to help me out of the storm into His great purposes.

 

So in the middle of my pain, who will I be?

 

Will I be Israel?  As they stood at the edge of the Red Sea, with Egypt chasing hard after them, they allowed fear to rule their hearts and cried out for death (Exodus 14:10-12).  As they stood in the valley facing the armored Philistine warrior, they allowed fear to immobilize them from walking in God’s power (1 Samuel 17:11).  As they heard the reports of the spies, they allowed fear to blind them to God’s ability to overcome every obstacle and every “bad report” (Numbers 13:31-33).

 

Or will I be Moses? Will I hear God say “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today” (Exodus 14:13) and trust Him to make a way?

 

Or will I be young David?  Will I remember all God has done for me and trust Him to work in mighty power with something as simple and unassuming as a stone (1 Samuel 17:47-49)?

 

Or will I be Caleb?  Will I stand boldly and confidently in who God is and declare “we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30)?

 

So I choose to open my hand, let go of my pain, and lean into God’s grace.  Which is more than enough to calm the storm and redirect me into His unexplainable peace (Philippians 4:7).  And what started as a gruesome day becomes a glorious day!

 

Marie Fremin.  9/8/17

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Hope

One of the great things about being a Christian is having hope.

 

Hope that God is in control and will work things out for our good (Romans 8:28).

Hope that God is working in us and through us for good things (Philippians 1:6).

Hope that God is a God of the impossible (Matthew 19:26).

Hope that God is working out the dreams in our hearts (Psalm 37:3-4).

Hope that God’s love is as big and amazing as He says it is (Ephesians 3:18-19).

Hope that God will do amazing things we can see and know (Ephesians 3:20).

Hope that God will allow us to encourage and help others (Matthew 5:16).

Hope that God sees us and knows us (Luke 12:7).

Hope that God has a great future for us (Jeremiah 29:11).

Hope that God has created us as a masterpiece of His grace (Ephesians 2:10).

Hope that God will allow us to be with Him for eternity (John 3:16).

 

And hope is a wonderful thing.

Hope.jpg

Until we place in people or jobs or something other than God.  Because then hope disappoints.  People let us down.  Jobs only use us.  And no one thinks twice about assigning motives to your words, meaning to your actions, and intentions to your heart.  No one cares about who you really are, choosing to tell you their assignments rather than know the real you.

 

And that’s where I find myself this week.  With many tears and much heartbreak.  After being told once again about my bad intentions and hostile words.  And I have been wondering how five years have gone by without anything really changing.  In fact, it seems to be getting worse.  And I always feel like the target.  I always feel like the villain.  I always feel like no matter how good my intentions and how well I stay within the “rules” that I will never get it right.  And it broke my heart this week to realize all these things.

 

But even without hope in my fellow man, I am still thankful.  I have great friends that have stepped up to plate and encouraged me through my tears, assuring me the picture being painted isn’t the true me.  They have reminded me about God’s love and the hope of His calling.  And I am grateful for them.

 

Yes, man disappoints.  But God never does.  He is faithful and true, just like He promised.  So as I figure out how to deal with the disappearance of hope in man this week, I trust God to reveal His purposes and believe He will show me if this is the beginning of a new season.  I trust God to count and keep every tear, to be redeemed in His perfect time.  I trust God to still my tongue and heal my hurt feelings so that I can walk in with grace and dignity.  I trust God.  Period.  So now I’ll wait to see how He writes this chapter of my story.

 

Marie Fremin.  9/8/17

Isaiah 43

Oh “Lord [my] God” (3a) ….  Thank You for all that my life is.

 

Thank You for the good, which reminds me of the depths of Your care.

Thank You for the not so good, which reminds me of the grandness of Your grace.

 

Thank You for deciding before I was even born to “love” (4c) me forever and without boundaries.  And for daily declaring Your love over me, continuing to love me every minute of every day.  Through all my choices – gracious or greedy, selfish or sacrificial, angry or accepting.

 

Thank You that no matter what these choices are that You still faithfully call me by name (1d) and always devotedly say “you are Mine” (1e).  Because I am “chosen” (10b) to be Yours, no matter what.

 

Help me to remember this, that I am always lovable and always worthy.  Especially when the world shouts the opposite to me.  Because You are “He who formed” (1b) me for great purposes and with indescribable love.  Because You are the “Holy One” (15a) who creates us through and for Your “glory” (7b).  So You see me always as beautiful.

 

Help me to remember Your hand is always on me.  You never forsake me.  Therefore I have no reason to fear or be anxious.  You remind me in many ways to “Fear not” (1c, 5a), and I pray You help me keep my heart in tune to hear it.  And to remember I belong to You, so therefore “I have redeemed you” (1c) and “I am with you” (5a) are always true enough to penetrate through the humanness of my heart.

 

Help me stand confidently and surely amidst the circumstances of life.  Because they will never be bigger or more powerful than You.  When I am anxious, help me remember “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (2a).  When I am overwhelmed, help me remember “And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you” (2b).  When I am treated unfairly, help me to remember “When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you” (2c-d).  When I am scared, help me remember You are the God “who makes a way in the sea and a path through the mighty waters” (16).  Because “there is no one who can deliver out of My hand” (13b).  I am secure in the loving hands of the one true Savior (11b) who loves to redeem all things for His glory.

Isaiah 43

So I can continually stay focused on You and confidently sing praises to You (21b).  I can trust You for impossible things to become possible.  Including “a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert” (19d-e).

 

For You are my Savior (3b).  You guide me through my Egypt (3c), the world around me that wants to enslave, dominate, and oppress me.  And as I walk with You, remind me that I am “precious” (4a) to You and therefore do not need to succumb to pressure and pride. You will “honor” (4b) my obedience and faithfulness to Your will, especially when I am faithful against the dark and deadly influences trying to destroy me.  Help me to “know and believe” (10c) You are working out everything according to Your best purposes and for my good and Your glory.

 

And help me, please, to “not remember the former things” (18a) that want to encase me in shame and stop my progress.  Help me, please, to not “consider the things of old” (18b) that want to stop me from living in and enjoying the present moment.  Help me, please, remember You are “He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake” (25a) so You can draw and keep me close.

 

Let me be a witness – bold and loud – of the “new thing” (19a) You are doing in me.

Of the new life You are bringing forth out of me.

Of the new hope You are creating in me.

Of the new faith You are burgeoning in me.

 

Because there is no other.  There is no other God (10d-11).

 

There is no other love so sure.

There is no other hope so secure.

There is no other grace so pure.

 

So help me remember who I am and Whose I am.  Let me not be like Israel, who did not “honor Me with your sacrifices” (23b) and who “have wearied Me with your iniquities” (24d).

 

Let me be “waters in the wilderness” (20c) to those searching for You “And rivers in the desert” (20d) to those desperate for Your love.  Let me impart hope instead of havoc, faith instead of fear, peace instead of pride, joy instead of judgment, acceptance instead of accusation, compassion instead of chaos.  Let me be a true and faithful “witness” (10a) to all the goodness and grace You are.  Let Your love flow through me so people know it – and want to experience it from the one true “Savior” (3b).

 

AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.   4/30/17, 5/27/17, 9/3/17

Just Like Peter

I believe God when He says He knew me before I born.  Because He gave me Peter to read about.

 

I have always identified myself with Peter.  Impetuous, quick to speak, a little reckless, daring.  But always at his core loyal, loving, and lively.

 

I know, I know.  How can I call him loyal?  This is the guy who denied Jesus three times in the courtyard (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, John 18).  But in his defense, he was loyal up until that point.  He left his business, his home, and his family to follow a Teacher to who loved and cared for all people.  He was the first disciple to proclaim Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:16).  He was the disciple quick to defend his friend Jesus in the garden at Judas’ kiss (John 18:10).  He was the first disciple to race toward the risen Savior on the beach (John 21:7).  He was the voice of the new church on Pentecost (Acts 2).

 

And in his defense, when he denied Jesus, he didn’t know the miracle that was coming.  Sure, he had been told.  Repeatedly.  But it was impossible.  His Teacher was being tried and convicted as a common criminal – and He was going to be put to death.  It was all over, and he had a family to think about.

 

And I personally am not naïve enough to think I would have reacted any differently.  Yes, I can pridefully say I would.  But I would be a liar.  Because in Peter’s shoes I don’t have the advantage we have now – the real end of the story.

 

Once Peter realized the end of the story was different than he thought, his posture changed.  His attitude changed.  His thinking changed.

 

Almost.

 

And here you can hear me chuckle as I think how like Peter I truly am.

 

Last year we hired two shop managers at work.  The first was young and driven by disappointment in having to do administrative work.  When given the choice to be reassigned, he quit.  The second one came with experience and a work ethic.  In preparing to hire him, my only comment was this – “if he starts making more money than me, who has been here 4 years and helped built this business, I will be super pissed.”

 

Really mature, right?  Just like Peter.  When the resurrected Jesus shows up on the beach in John 21, Peter is so thrilled at recognizing Him that he jumps out of the boat and swims to shore.  They dine, and then Jesus has great compassion on Peter by redeeming his three denials before the cross.  He gives Peter three opportunities to say “You know that I love You” (John 21:15-17) and undo his previous three denials.

 

So how does Peter react to all this?  By turning to John and asking “But Lord, what about this man?” (John 21:21).  Instead of glorying in Jesus’ complete forgiveness and love, he turns and wants to know John’s fate.

 

And that was me last year.  “”What are you going to pay him?” was my focus.  Because money is how your value is displayed.  I wanted my value to be denoted.  I wanted my value to be drawn out.  I was Peter, wanting to know how I ranked against someone else.

 

Maybe not the most healthy attitude.  Maybe a little immature.  But four years and the creation of the inventory system started talking for me.

 

And it still talks today.  Not as often, but a little more loudly recently.  Because I see value being assigned, and I see my value tipping away.  I have been somewhat consumed lately watching it.  Just as Peter watched the waves.

 

Peter had it.  He was in the middle of a miracle.  He saw Jesus walk on water.  And it started him thinking.  So he asked Jesus to call him, and then he takes that first (tenuous) step out of the boat.  He has one foot and then two on the water.  And he was still above it!  He gets even bolder and “he walked on the water to go to Jesus” (Matthew 14:29).  But suddenly his focus shifted.  Suddenly the miracle was impossible in the reality of the raging storm.  And in the blink of an eye, he finds himself “beginning to sink” (Matthew 14:30).

Just Like Peter

He let himself be distracted by circumstances instead of focusing on God’s purpose for him.  He destroyed the miracle by looking somewhere other than Jesus.

 

And I laughed at myself this week as I realized I am Peter in that moment of seeing the wind and waves.  I stopped appreciating where God has me and how God is blessing me.  And I saw myself beginning to sink into discontentment, discouragement, and disappointment.  So far from where God wants me to be.

 

And just as He was compassionate to Peter, so too is He compassionate toward me.  He didn’t turn to Peter and condemn him.  He didn’t leave Peter to drown.  “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him” (Matthew 14:31), saving Peter from himself and redeeming his fear for faith.  And as I realize I have been sinking into my emotions, He reaches the same hand to me to pull me up and out.  He doesn’t condemn me, instead offering me the same chance as Peter to redeem myself.

 

And how can I do that?  Start at Philippians 4:6-11 and focus only on God.

  1. Stop worrying about everyone else. It doesn’t matter what they have.
  2. Be thankful for what God has allowed you to have – and do good with it.
  3. You will never have peace comparing and contrasting your life to others.
  4. Change your thinking and appreciate your “lovely” aspects of life.
  5. Be content where God has you and the blessings He pours into your life. It doesn’t matter what you don’t have.

 

And get up every day remembering the Bible is full of far from perfect people.  Peter included.  Yet God still loved each one of them truly, working through them in amazing ways.  Because imperfection is the open door for God to begin doing miracles for us and through us.

 

Thank You, Father, for examples like Peter who remind us we can mess up and still be part of Your miracles.  Thank You for redeeming grace that picks us up and allows us to declare our love and fidelity no matter what we have done.  Help us each to find the Peter of Pentecost within ourselves.  AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin.  9/3/17

Decisions

I’ve been thinking this week about how different my life would be if I had kept my “yes” to get married back in 1997.

 

(Please give me a minute to pass out in realizing this was 20 years ago!)

 

No wedding meant I stayed in Georgia.  I didn’t go back to Tennessee or wind up on the west coast.  So my 20 years of adult life have all been in Georgia.  But what would I have missed if I had chosen marriage?

 

No Chico.  OMG, he was a butthead, but that dog knew how to love.  He didn’t trust easily, but when he did, it was with his whole being.  He helped strengthen an already solid faith in God by showing me every day what true love is.

 

No Melissa or Teri.  These are awesome women of faith who know who God is and believe He can do the impossible.  They have invested in me and engaged in my trials.  They are encouraging and supportive as each day I battle the thorns in my flesh.  And they are always willing to pray for me.  I love you, ladies!

 

No Bettie.  My life would definitely be less colorful and engaged without this sweet adopted grandmother in my life.  I definitely would not enjoy the beauty of a well-placed “bless your heart” without her.  I am grateful to be part of the love and support she has to give.

 

And so many other wonderful people who have come in for a season and allowed me to be part of their journey.

 

Plus a variety of churches to wind up where I belong – in ironically the last place I said I would be.  If I weren’t in Georgia, would I even know who Andy Stanley is?  Would his ministry have had any impact on my life?

 

What about my love of live theater?  Would I have discovered it living somewhere else?

 

And then there is the coming into my own.  Would I have embraced my gift of writing?  Allowed myself to be open to share all my bad moments?  Would this blog even exist?  Or would I have been too busy and distracted to stop and listen?

 

I could be married.  I could have kids.  I could be in another state.

I could be content, or I could be miserable.  I could be settled, or I could be lost.

 

I don’t know where I could have wound up, since those paths are untraveled.

 

But I know where I am.  I know God is using where I am for my good and His glory.  I know God is allowing miracles to happen.  And I know God will keep me and work through me as I continue on my chosen path.

 

Am I sorry about my choice 20 years ago?  I am sorry that people were hurt by my disobedience to God’s guidance.  I am sorry that pain may be the lasting legacy in the memories of those involved.

 

But otherwise, no.  I am not sorry.  I know I did the right thing for me.  I wanted more than I was getting, and I got shortchanged because it was the wrong season for both of us.  Neither of us was ready to handle together what we wouldn’t face individually.  So it didn’t work, and that’s OK.  I think God used that experience to the full extent of His grace to put everyone back into His will.

 

So I look back, and I smile.  I have learned a lot, and none it goes to waste in light of God’s goodness.

 

No, I don’t know what I missed out on because I chose as I did.

But I know who and what I would have missed – and I am so grateful I didn’t.

Decisions

Thank You, loving Father, for all of it – up to this point and into the future!

 

Marie Fremin, 8/27/17

Trust Me?

“Do you trust me?”

Trust me

I was asked this question this week, and it took everything in me not to physically cringe or roll my eyes dramatically.  I was willing to answer the question … and answer it honestly.  Even though I knew the answer would not go over well.

 

But God was gracious, and He allowed it to be a quick question in the middle of a long conversation.  No answer from me was needed.  So no pot was stirred.  No history was repeated.  No feelings were disparaged.

 

But it still got me thinking what a loaded and potentially dangerous and/or life altering the question can be.

 

I don’t mind telling you the truth, about anything.  But I realize that my truth telling is conditional.  Because how honest I am depends on who you are and what the situation is.

 

When you ask me directly, I answer honestly.  There is a really good chance I will be fully honest, holding nothing back.  But I might hesitate at full honesty if the circumstances are sketchy – if I know you will disagree with me, you won’t hear me, you only want me to agree with you (whether I do or not), or you want something use it against me.

 

And I think we are all the same way (if we’re honest).

 

But then a bigger question came up – Do I trust God?

 

It is one thing to have caution and care with people.  But there should be no boundaries, no hesitation, and no doubt when it comes to God.

 

So do I trust the person who asked me the question?  Not fully, at least not in our shared setting.

 

Do I trust God?  Completely.

 

This doesn’t mean I understand everything that happens.

This doesn’t mean I have all my questions answered.

This doesn’t mean I always get my way or my wish.

 

It simply means that I have come to the crossroads of decision and decided that God is the best choice.

 

No matter what the circumstance.

No matter what the emotion.

No matter what the comfort level.

No matter what the company.

 

And King Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, says this is the wisest choice to make.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

 

Trust in the Lord – in all circumstances and with all confidence.  Don’t think you know better.  Don’t assume you are smarter.  Don’t try to convince God your plan is better.  Stop and listen to what He wants to say to you – and then not trust your own wants, desires, and thinking.

 

Maybe he learned this from his father, King David, one of the beloved men of God.  David, no matter what he was going through, always chose to trust God.  When despised and left out by his brothers, he trusted God.  When on the run for 15 years from his father-in-law King Saul, he trusted God.  When God refused to let him build His house, he trusted God.  Through everything he experienced, David chose to live by his words in Psalm 37:3-6 – “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.  Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.”

 

Maybe you aren’t quite there yet.  And that’s OK.  God is waiting patiently for you.  He can be your hope and your healing, your confidence and your clarity, your surety and your safety, your faith and your future.  When you are ready and decide to trust Him.  “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord” (Jeremiah 17:7).

 

Marie Fremin, 8/12/17

Prayer for the Crossroads

Loving Father,

Thank You for friends who will pray you through. Thank You for the compassion You lavish and the grace You shower on us through these friends. Thank You for bringing us together, so we may encourage and support and sustain each other.

 

I pray for each lady here, Father. I pray that whatever crossroads she stands at, whatever decision she needs to make, whatever pressure is weighing her down – whatever is keeping her from Your best, I pray right now for supernatural strength to stand firm. I pray right now for divine wisdom to guide. I pray right now for an inrush of grace to support and encourage.

Prayer for the Crossroads

I pray that the crossroads becomes a place of great testimony instead of discouragement, stress, confusion, and pain. I pray that the crossroads becomes the next step in her journey with You, a step into peace and health and clarity. I pray that the crossroads becomes a builder of faith and not the catalyst for faltering or failure.

 

I pray right now especially Father for wisdom. We come boldly. We come assuredly. We come confidently. That you see each of us. Hear each of us. Know each of us. Love each of us. Meet each of us at the place of confusion, indecision, and unsurety. Because with You we will be equipped with every heavenly blessing to continue as we need to and assured of Your hand firmly and lovingly on our lives.

 

As we stand at the crossroads …

Let not our faith waiver.

Let not our hope diminish.

Let not our confidence evaporate.

 

Help us to be bold, be brave, and be brazen.

Help us to be focused, be faithful, and be a force for You.

Help us to take action, speak with assurance, and have the right attitude.

Help us to be slow to speak, willing to listen, and quick to obey.

 

Help us to trust You, completely and with full confidence, to guide us into Your plans and purposes.  Help us to trust You, assuredly and with much hope, to show us the way You want us to go.

 

Thank You for always having Your loving hand on us.

Thank You for always knowing exactly where we are and exactly what we need.

Thank You for always giving us a reason to believe for a better outcome.

 

We stand together and believe.

In Jesus’ almighty name.

AMEN!

 

Marie Fremin, 8/11/17