As I sit to write my left shoulder is numb and my hand tingles and is cold to the touch, my mind swims as I try to focus. Worry! Yes worry! I'm not sure what direction I want this post to go. Just recently I have reconnected with two friends of my past that I saw no way of reconciliation, and I sit here, reading a text from one of them. Life, so strange, so difficult, so different sometimes than how we ever imagined it being. I sat with a lady, one I had known for over 20 yrs, and saw such disappointment in her face for how her life had turned out, and she was a proclaiming servant of the scripture, yet somehow in her heart, I know she blamed God for how things had come to be. It seemed like there was a void in her, something was dead, not quite right, her heart was partly dead, like she had shut part of it off. I knew her, she was sitting in front of me, she looked the same, talked the talk, but she was not there, I was exposed and holding nothing back, but I knew, she was guarded, not truly ready to surrender to our friendship, share her heart, share her "story". I could see how easily bitterness could invade her heart. I could recognize it because I myself had been bitter, too many times to recall, and what an awful place to be. It's like dying a slow death. Like a cancer. You start out angry, then you get bitter, then you just stop caring, and that's when you shut down, and nothing, not even God, can touch the recesses of your heart where that bitterness is stored away. You won't invite Him in, and somehow you feel it's all you have left, if you let it go, you open yourself up to be hurt again, then you will start expecting good things again, start hoping, start loving, start believing in something. As I left our meeting, I thought about my own bitterness, the little bit I had held on to, ole' "just a little bit that's only mine because I really deserve it", it was an injustice, I have every right! God, how can I have this in me, get up in front of women and share Your goodness, and You, in some strange phenonmena, speak a healing word to them, through me!! How can good and bad both dwell in the same body? Life is kinda like that, good sometimes, and bad sometimes. They go hand and hand. And let's be honest, without the bad, how many of us would enjoy the good. So, this is what I am telling myself as we face yet another crisis in our life. When we where in Dallas Kenny made the statement casually, "Well if we get back and our rental situation is done, I guess we will be moving to Texas!" We all laughed, a bit nervously, I might say, because I don't put anything past God these days, but had a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. As our life would go, that statement is not so funny. Well, we have a unique situation, we live with my Dad, who purchased our place from an elderly lady who recently died and it went into probate, and long story short, alot of the monies and agreement was with her and not the children, so 6 months of mortgage payments are gone. So once again, that ole' familiar sick feeling, not wanting to eat, arm numb, anxious feelings, have taken over my broke down body. 45 years old yet I feel 90. So I go back and reread what I just wrote, about releasing my grip and allowing God. And working on my unbelief. Geezzz, is this a test??? Then I recall the greatest churches in the Bible that grew through persecution. Is this how my ministry is destined to grow, through persecution, and nearly killing me! It does seem like it takes tragedy to bring women together, drop all the mask and pretense, to be honest and connect with each other. God is this why I am here, at this place, to bring a common thread, something to join me to others? How many times will I arrive at this realization? It takes me back to a similar situation, or I should say several similar situations within the past three years, when we had run out of options. We have come to a place where, when one situation closes down we accept the next one, believing that's the one God has provided for in that moment. We had one day left before our rent was due, back in North Carolina. I had been in constant contact with my landlord Ms. Betty (a wonderful lady, I still stay in touch with today) the grant we had been on, had ran out, the fact that we even had been on the program was a miracle in and of itself. So I could hardly be angry or unappreciative, but still my heart was sad and I was scared. We had no money and very little alternatives. I had called my contact the previous morning and she had said no, still no money, but if anything comes in, I will call you immediately, but don't expect it, it is highly unlikely. (This grant was a unique grant and when depleted was not suppose to have any more funds allotted) And not only was our rent due, but we also had 2 months utilities due. And this was in the winter, when heat was crucial. So I got up, as soon as my feet hit the floor, the worry set in, the uneasiness, draining me of every ounce of energy and stripping me of my peace. I worried all night, fussed at God, worried some more, fussed some more, but, I don't think I prayed much. Sometimes when life gets too difficult you almost lose your ability to pray, or you have prayed and prayed and have seen your situation digress and that little seed of bitterness I spoke of gets planted and worrying or fussing becomes alot easier than praying. You haven't rebuked God, but you just stop asking. I made my coffee, got the kids off to school. We had an extremely unexpected surprise when, on this Monday, Mrs. Betty and her husband showed up. She had come to have some gravel dumped up our drive because the snow would not allow us to get up the hill to the house. We had already been talking to her about the fact that we were going to have to leave in the next week. She was sad, we were sad, and there was just nothing else to be done. I had cooked some turnip greens and fresh cornbread, which Mrs Betty always loved, but I had no idea she was even coming. She and I were in the kitchen overseeing the cornbread and greens when suddenly I saw I had gotten a text, it was my contact, it said urgent! So I call her and she is in shock, number one that she received more grant money and number two, she was even given extra money!! So in a moment our rent was paid!.. What seemed hopeless and impossible, even with our Federal government, God made possible. I was crying, Mrs Betty was crying and we would, eventually, make it til the end of the school year, which was over four months away. Even with my lack of attention to my prayer life, God saw fit to meet our needs, just one more time, a testament to the fact that this thing called life is not about how good we live, or how many rules we follow, it is all about HIM... So back to the, new kind of dilemma, lack of praying, Ben Patterson, a chaplain said, that's what prayer does. It's radical, it goes down deep beneath the surface to uproot evil and upset the status Quo. So when my day is going along and it's going in the direction of worry and anxiety, I wanna interrupt it with prayer. As it builds toward a crisis, I will to will myself to deliberately stop to pray. When my attitude starts to sour, I will pause for an attitude adjustment, I wont wait--I will pray immediately. Jesus said, don't worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or wear, isn't life more important than all that? Look at the birds of the air, they don't sow or store away, their heavenly father feeds them..Aren't you of more value to him than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Don't worry about what you'll eat or drink or wear, your heavenly Father knows all these things, don't worry about tomorrow it will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own. Seek Me, and My righteousness and all these things will come to you. He was speaking to the common, the poor folks, so He said, you have heard of Solomon and all his glory (glory, that money, human money can buy) yet it pales to the lilies of the field that God created, again, you are of soooo much more value to Him than those flowers and look at the care He took in them. I think of Dallas and all it's mansions and diamonds and beauty that analogy came to me. As I looked to my right I see a winter bloom that has just opened, I am not sure what it is even called, and I am reminded of my life, it seems forgotten and not pretty. And then I think of all the things God has woven in our life and I see, just like the lilies of the field, the great care He has taken in my life, and it is just as beautiful as that bloom. But not by man's hand, as with Solomon, but by His hand. Worry, it must be the elephant in the room! I am afraid this praying is not a one time thing, I Thes says pray without ceasing, Paul said pray first!, Pray first!! Because we are creatures of habit it is most likely our worrying and anxiety will return and we will have to return to prayer and release it all again. Prayer is an investment. I promise you the time you spend in prayer isn't lost, it will return dividends far greater than what a few moments spent on something we think we need to do will return. Dividends of the world, will certainly fail us. Not that they are evil or not great to have, but, we must not place our value in them first, but we must placed our value in God's sentiment toward us. It is too easy to want to put a gun to your head and say life is just not work the fight. It is a losing battle, our present economy and the state of our country is only getting worse, it is not hopeful, but I think it may be because we value the wrong things, we honor the wrong currency, we revere the wrong god. If Jesus was speaking outright and not figuratively, He said, over and over again, that God's value is on humanity, not on creation itself, not on the planet, not on the governments of our age, but solely on humanity. What is remarkable is that He values "all" humanity, not just the pretty or brilliant. Outside of the belief we have a higher calling, a higher purpose, a destiny, it is a dismal future, but it is God Who gives us hope, and it may just be that He is trying to coerce us into a realignment of our value system, of what we value most. Even in at a time like this, as I face this situation, and I battle worry, and fear, I remember the scriptures of my youth, God is my refuge and my strength, a very present help in times of trouble Psalms 46:1. Pray first! Pray always! In ALL things Pray! Pray without ceasing! God I must never stop praying, never allow my worry to distract me from the one thing that will carry me through, and that is my time with You. Prayer.