Monday, August 22, 2011

A Fresh Start

Today is the 1st day of school, a brand new year. The house is quiet and I am very reflective, on so many things.

I LOVE the beginning of school. Being in education most of my life, as either a student or a teacher, there is something about the beginning of a new school year. No matter what happened in the previous year, the New Year brings a promise of a fresh start. All the bad grades, arguments with friends, mistakes made, all of those things are in the past and all that lies ahead is a new year.  A Fresh Start…those words have been my mantra over this past year. This particular fresh start today seems especially important.

For those of you who know me well, you know where we were at the time last year. Last year’s fresh start was full of uncertainty and confusion and fear. There many difficult decisions that had to be made during that time.  Only by God’s grace and His amazing mercy have we made it to this place, this year. The journey has been difficult at times and there have been moments when I wondered if we would ever get to a more peaceful, stable place and all I can say today on this wonderful day full of fresh starts…is…God is good, ALL the time.

In January, God gave me those verses from Isaiah 43

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19

I have looked back at that verse many times over the past 8 months and reminded myself that even though it may seem like 2 steps forward and 5 steps backward, God has been and is continuing to do a new thing. A BRAND NEW THING…a fresh start.

Last night we sat around the table and talked about our favorite summer memories and our goals for the New Year. I looked at the kids faces and saw that everyone really did have an incredible summer and that they were ready to tackle this New Year. There was an excitement and anticipation, almost an eagerness about them. No fear, or worry, or anxiety, or regret about the past….just looking forward. And I found myself in that moment being truly thankful. So thankful that my kids also see the value in a fresh start and are ready to embrace what is to come for them, for me, and for our family.

I don’t know what is going on in your corner of the world today. It may not be your day of Fresh Starts. But God’s word tells us that everyday can be a fresh start. Lam. 3:22 – 23 tells us:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.

So, even today you can have your fresh start. EVERY morning His mercies are new, for you and for me. Choose to start fresh with Him today. You won’t ever regret it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Psalm 40 - a moment of encouragement

Less than 48 hours until Spring Break officially kids are wound up...I am wound up...we are ready for a break and to have some fun. This has been a good week overall...working, school, exercise, church, dinner, laundry...all the things that go into my week. I have been very proud of myself for sticking with my exercise things are rolling along...until tonight...

I have no idea what happened, but tonight I was hit with a ton of bricks...all my fears, all my self-doubt, all the things that I really HATE about myself, all of it...hit me in the face. I was trucking along, giving the kids showers, getting ready for bed, then I sat down to enjoy a moment of peace and quiet and I was sideswiped by all my own insecurities. There I sat, on my bed...overwhelmed and moved to tears...not knowing how to move on from this point...feeling hopeless...what happened? I was fine and then a moment of reality of my "alone" situation and I was undone. All I could do was reach for my Bible (at least I did that right). And I went to Psalm 40...and found some wonderful encouragement from David. He was a man who knew about overwhelming circumstances...

Psalm 40:1-4
1 I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,

and he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the pit of despair,
out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground
and steadied me as I walked along.
3 He has given me a new song to sing,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the Lord."

There is so much in these four verses. So much truth, so much encouragement for those overwhelming moments.

First, David says that God turned toward him and heard his cry. I picture a very busy everywhere. There are moms sitting on the sides talking. All of the sudden one of the moms looks towards the sea of kids, she heard something. She heard her child cry the sea of noise, when she wasn't looking, her child's cry, got her attention. Sometimes I feel so insignificant. So small, so unworthy and unimportant. But David says that God turns towards us and hears our cry to Him. He hears you...he hears me. He heard me tonight cry out to him alone on my bed...he turned his face toward me and heard my cry.

Second, He lifts us out of the pit of despair and sets our feet on solid ground...when we are drowning in our despair, our own failure, our own mistakes...when there is no way we can get out ourselves...He lifts us up. Just picture it...His big, strong, nail pierced hand reaching down into all your junk and lifting you out. Tonight I was drowning in my own weakness. I fall so far short. I make the same mistakes and sometimes it feels completely hopeless...but He reached down and He just lifted me out. But He doesn't stop there...He sets our feet on solid ground. Solid. Secure. Safe. A place where we can get our bearings...take a breath...a firm foundation. Tonight my firm foundation was found in His word...the truth. He reminds me that Satan is a liar and he is seeking to destroy me. But God is Love and He holds me in His hand and that will never change no matter what my circumstances may be...

Third, He gives us a NEW song to sing. This has been the theme of my year...all things new. I just needed another reminder that He is constantly working to make me heart, new desires, new life, new song. He gives us a new song and then we sing...that is important because sometimes I don't feel like singing...sometimes I don't want to sing. I want to wallow...I want to say "poor me." But God wants us to sing. He wants us to dance. He wants us to live. He has given us a new song...

Lastly, and this is the good part, "Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord." God is going to carry us through and people are going to notice. They are going to see all that He has done and they are going to be amazed. His faithfulness through our dark days will turn people to Christ. The fact that we are standing on that solid ground and singing our new song will point people to the one and only living God and they will trust Him. Wow. It is a privilege to walk with God and be a part of drawing people to Him.

I don't where you are...I don't know what overwhelms you when it is just you in the quietness of your spirit. I don't know what you and God are trying to overcome. But He is faithful...He hears your cry, He lifts you up, He gives you a new song, and people will be drawn to Him because of your story. Don't give up...just give it all to Him...He will never let you down.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Conference contest

This is my official entry for the She Speaks conference scholarship

Why I think I need it...for the past five years I have wanted to attend this conference. Last year I registered and then because my life went crazy I could not go...

About me...

My name is Pam West and I am (newly) a single mom of three kids. I have felt called to speak to women's groups and to write for several years. It took me almost two years to say those words out loud to anyone because I thought it sounded look at me...I want to speak to women's groups...

I know that God has gifted me to be in front of people, I just have no idea what that looks like in my life.

As I said before, I am newly divorced. There is a whole, long crazy story there (that probably doesn't belong in this blog quite yet) but just to say...there are a lot of women in my situation in or will be in my situation and I think that the church is still not quite sure how to minister to these wonderful ladies... (we are getting better at this). I do not know if God wants to use this in the speaking arena, but it is my experience that He doesn't allow anyone to go through things without a purpose.

I would LOVE to come to the conference. Last year when I had to give it up, I was heartbroken, but I knew it wasn't right to go in the midst of the chaos. Things are much calmer now and I would love to come. I think what you are all doing is amazing. Love it...

Can't wait until Monday...good luck to everyone.

A moment of thankfulness

Most of you know that my life (our lives) took a very crazy turn over the past few years and even the midst of that I can sometimes find myself focusing on my circumstances...

Our a single mom now, are we going to make it each month? Will I have enough to pay our bills and still buy clothes for the kids? I can easily get overwhelmed by all the responsibilities.

Our is affecting the kids? Are they going to be OK? Are they sharing they feel secure and safe? Am I doing enough as the mom? There are times when I am sure that I totally messed them up for their future relationships.

Our future...a new job? A new relationship...feeling lonely and strange being single? will there be romance and affection in my future? Where are we headed on this new journey? There are days when I feel so scared and alone.

So many many things new. I forget to take a moment and be thankful for where we are and what we have...

Tonight, the four of us sat down to dinner and Katie asked to pray. She prayed the simplest prayer from a little girl's heart.

"God, thank you for my family. I love them so much. Thank for your our house because there are people that don't have a place to live. And thank you for this is so yummy."
What a tonight as the kids are getting into bed and the house is settling down into a peaceful quiet...I am very thankful. Yes, I am scared and nervous about our future...but there is nothing I can do about the whatif's tonight...tonight I can have a heart full of gratitude.

God thank you for this gift of may not always go the way we hope or plan, but I do know that you are always with us along the journey and that is enough. Thank you that nothing surprises are never thrown for a never have to resort to plan B or C or Z...Thank you that, for whatever reason, you see something in me that you love...that is worth your time...Thank you for looking my way...everyday...

God has been so good to us and we are truly thankful!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Starting over in 2011 it is already the middle of February, we are 6 weeks into this year and I am just now writing. 2010 was a very tough year...our life took a turn that I could have never predicted, but that is the way it is with life...uncertain and unpredictable. I was ready to say good-bye to last year and embrace the new...looking forward to all that was ahead in 2011. But it has not been easy in a different way...the last six weeks have been full of sickness and snow days. I feel like I have spent so much time in my bed between the flu and strep throat and missing school for 5 days because of the snow and now I find myself restless and longing for something different. Isn't it funny how God will do anything to get our attention and make us deal with our junk. I am thankful for that. I'm thankful that He loves us enough to discipline and refine make us into that "new creation." My verse for 2011 is Isaiah 43:18 - 19

 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland."

Making a way in the wilderness...I'm banking on that for this year, that God will make a way in the wilderness. I am ready for all the sickness and all the cold weather to be over. I want to get back into a new, good routine. These are my goals for 2011...six weeks late, but here they are. (I am hoping by putting them on this blog where I know a few people will read it that there will be a little accountability)
1. To be in the word...I had to get a new Bible...mine was filled with details and memories of the past, and we are looking toward the future and new things that God has laid out...I had stopped reading because it was so difficult, but now I am reading familiar passages and they have a whole new meaning for me...I guess that's what they mean by the living word.
2. To work out and get health can be an issue and I am determined to work on it this year and get better. I have excerised consistently before and I determined to look better and feel better this year. I know I can do, I want God to be glorified with my choices for my body!
3. To keep a clean house - the house was totally fixed up this summer and I LOVE it...I am trying to keep it clean so people can feel free to drop by any time...we are doing much better at this, but the past six weeks with sickness and snow has gotten to be a little bit of a mess...time to reclaim the clean house.
4. To invest in the kids...quality time with each of them...this has been a challenge...I have been in survival mode for so long that I am still figuring out how to function in this new reality...I must admit I have not been very good with the kids...I am determined to be better.
I know there are more, but that is good to start...I am determined that 2011 is going to be a new beginning for me and for us...God has a plan and a purpose for us in this year, in this time and I am going to try to live it out to the fullest...
I hope that your 2011 has been going well, but if it has gotten off to a rough start like mine, start can have a new beginning anytime you need...His mercies are new EVERY morning...make it count. He is with you on the journey.