Sunday, January 29, 2017

The One Who Sees Me

So, a long time ago, there lived a woman named Hagar.  Hagar was an Egyptian woman who had been taken on by a man named Abram to be a servant to his wife Sarai.

As a servant, I bet Hagar often felt overlooked; taken for granted; unseen.

Feeling unseen... hurts.  I can think of several examples in my own life of times when I've felt overlooked or unseen. school, when kids came to talk to my friends but were not interested in getting to know me

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...going to summer camp with my cousin... all the rest of the time, we were great friends but, as soon as we got to camp, she made her own friends and would have nothing to do with me

...when my best friend Melissa, with whom I was sharing an apartment and with whom I was falling deeply in love, started dating this guy... I was so ashamed of the emotions I felt and could not shake... and my heart, all tangled up in her, was torn to shreds when she put me aside to spend time with him

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...when I learned that my biological father was a man I have never met and still have not met, despite having reached out to him myself on more than one occasion

In each of those examples, it occurs to me that the others around me were conscious I was there; I just felt IGNORED.  Ohhh, rejection HURTS!!  It hurts into the marrow of my bones.

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As I typed those instances where I essentially faced rejection, I will admit I felt a great sense of shame.  My mind admonished me; "Quit whining.  Get over it.  Stop making a pity-party list."  Etcetera, etcetera.  But I kept typing... because those experiences were real to ME.  They affected ME.  And I will not cower down and cover up my wounds.

They affected me.  Therefore, they matter.  They matter to me, and they matter to God.

You, too!  WHEN ANYTHING AFFECTS YOU, IT MATTERS TO GOD.  God made you, God loves you, and God cares about you completely.

I guess that's why reading about Hagar grabbed my attention so strongly.

Allow me to summarize Hagar's story from Genesis 16:

1.  God had promised a child to Abram and Sarai, but Sarai could not get pregnant.
2.  Sarai suggested Abram sleep with her servant Hagar and, through her, maybe he could have their promised child.
3.  Hagar became pregnant and, possibly feeling a little more important now, was spiteful and malicious toward Sarai.
4.  Sarai was resentful right back, threw a fit and treated Hagar so badly that Hagar ran away into the desert.

(I left out a lot of details, but those are the bare bones of the story.)

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Can you imagine how Hagar felt?  She had been a nobody; some woman's servant.  Then the woman told her to sleep with her husband, and maybe have a child for him.  And maybe Hagar felt a little special then.  Maybe she felt a little more self-worth.

Then Hagar did get pregnant, and maybe Abram was excited!  And maybe Hagar took it a little too far by being ugly to Sarai, but... she, formerly alone and pushed to the side, was carrying the child of an important man!

Sarai lashed out at her, I'm sure, with a nasty ferocity.  Sarai, perhaps, wanted to put Hagar in her place; to remind her she was unworthy and nothing more than a servant.  Sarai kept on, and kept on, and kept on... until Hagar just could not take it anymore, and ran away.

I can only imagine how she felt.

THEN!!  Look what happens!  Genesis 16:7-11...

"The angel of the LORD found Hagar beside a spring of water in the wilderness, along the road to Shur."
"The angel said to her, "Hagar, Sarai's servant, where have you come from, and where are you going?" "I'm running away from my mistress, Sarai," she replied."
"The angel of the LORD said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit to her authority.""
"Then he added, "I will give you more descendants than you can count.""

"And the angel also said, "You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You are to name him Ishmael (which means 'God hears'), for the LORD has heard your cry of distress."

Then verse 13, Hagar responds:  "You are the God who sees me.  Have I truly seen the One who sees me?"

I bet Hagar cried tears of relief.  I imagine she felt comforted; protected; acknowledged... SEEN.

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And I doubt her life instantly became simple; I doubt her problems disappeared... but, going forward, she was able to face them with strength, with confidence, and with the knowledge she was not in this by herself.

God SEES you!  Regardless of your situation and no matter how you ended up there, God see you and you do not have to face this life alone.

Here are some verses to further underscore that statement.  I encourage you to write them down, read them often and get them into your mind and your heart.  Being familiar with God's truth makes us stronger people!

1 Chronicles 28:9 - "For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him."

Proverbs 24:12 - "God understands all hearts, and he sees you."

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Deuteronomy 7:9 - "Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands."

Psalm 54:4 - "But God is my helper. The Lord keeps me alive!"

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Proverbs 5:21 - "For the LORD sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes."

Matthew 6:6  - "But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you."

Psalm 118:6 - "The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?"

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Psalm 27:1 - "The LORD is my light and my salvation--so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble?"

Matthew 10:29-31 - "What is the price of two sparrows--one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.  And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.  So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows."

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Matthew 11:28 - "Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest."

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Brand New Day!

Genesis 7:24 - "And the floodwaters covered the earth for 150 days."

That's roughly five months.  There was no mold remediation, there were no piles of soggy trash out by the road, and no fleet of giant debris removal trucks like we had here, recently, in Baton Rouge.

We had water standing for about a week.  This was the whole world, and it was five months, with water that rose high above the highest mountain tops... not just to the rooftops of houses.  The world was essentially a fishbowl, with one comparatively tiny boat sailing the surface and carrying the remnant of all human and animal life on earth.

And, when all was sufficiently washed away, the ark landed on Mt. Ararat, here:

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Some claim to have found the actual ark:

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There are different opinions as to the legitimacy of this discovery but, if you're interested, I found a National Geographic story about it HERE.

I bet that was a beautiful day... fresh air, the sun bright in the blue sky, maybe a cool breeze... and the fresh feeling of a new start.  I know that feeling and it's awesome.  I love feeling that way.  God can do that for anyone who asks; wash away all the old, messy filth and give us a NEW start.  We can have a breath of fresh, clean air and the secure feeling that everything has brand-new potential to be very, very good.

The quality of life we live is totally up to us; God gives us that choice.  So wonderful.

Genesis 8:18 - "So Noah, his wife, and his sons and their wives l

v. 20 - "Then Noal built an altar to the Lord, and there he sacrificed burnt offerings...".

v. 21 - "And the Lord was pleased with the aroma of the sacrifice."

"'I will never again curse the ground because of the human race...'."

v. 22 - "'As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night'."

Just like Ecclesiastes - for everything, there is a season... and a time for every purpose under heaven.

It's a good day.  Get out there and live it!

Nicole  😉

Saturday, January 21, 2017

There's No Crying in CrossFit

Okay.  Before I tell this story, I need to cover a few basics.

This is a burpee:  BURPEEVIDEO

This is a Russian Kettlebell Swing:  RKBS

Got it?  Ok, great, here we go!  😊

So.  This past Tuesday, we held a beautiful funeral service for my wonderful, loving, amazing grandmother.  The service was pretty much perfect.  People shared memories of her, sharing funny as well as emotional stories.  The minister compared her, quite aptly, to the Proverbs 31 woman.  The day was beautiful and the time with family was happy and soothing.

Still, it was hard.  I loved my Ma-Ma and always will.

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I pushed through the days, going back to work on Wednesday and working 12.5 hours toward making up the time i missed Monday and Tuesday.

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On Thursday, I worked 10.5 hours then went back to CrossFit to work out.  I needed it badly; I hadn't been since the previous Friday.

The workout was a killer.  20 burpees, 20 RKBS.  Then 15 of each, then 10... THEN 15 of each AGAIN, then back up to 20.  But I was down for it, and I went at it with a positive attitude.

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It.  Was.  HARD.

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Burpees alone can kick my butt.  But back and forth between the two exercises was extremely tough, and I was panting not too far into the workout.  However, I kept at it!  I got all the way to my final set of 20 burpees.  My coach and buddy Amber came and stood by me, counting the burpees with me to lend her support.

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I was tired.  I was out of breath.  I got to about burpee number 12 when my body started shaking, my face started crumpling, and I...

I fell apart sobbing.  Right there in the gym, in front of Amber and everyone else.

Crying is not something I do very often.  I hadn't been feeling emotional that day... maybe numb, but definitely not feeling as torn up as it turned out I was.

So kind... Amber, who knew about my loss, understood what was going on and let me stop the workout.

I went in the ladies' room, sat on the floor in the end stall and just sobbed.  I shook, and cried more tears than I have in a very long time.

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Amber even came to check on me.  She sat on the floor outside the stall and made sure I was okay.

"I'm a lot like you, Nicole; always staying tough.  Sometimes a hard workout like that can break down your defenses."

That made sense.

I had to text her that evening and thank her.

It's a process, this grief thing.  I do hurt deep down.  I miss my Ma-Ma.  We were close all my life.  She is irreplaceable.  Not that I want to replace her... it's just that I now have a big hole in my heart since she's gone.

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So, there's no crying in baseball... or CrossFit... but I'm glad my system cracked and I had the chance to let out some of the grief I am going through.

Thank You, God, for tears... and for friends.

But not for burpees.  LOL

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