Tuesday, October 27, 2015

God's Creation and Healing

Every day is new and beautiful in it's own way. We can focus on the positives or the negatives; it's our choice! I don't know about you, but I'm going to try to keep it positive even on those most difficult of days. Yes, I have them too. I really don't know anyone who doesn't have tragedy in or near their life. Some situations are far beyond my grasp of understanding. As tragedy impacts the lives of those whom I know I continue to pray, seek God's presence, and walk in His creation. There is something healing for me as I stumble through this life grabbing hold of even the smallest glimpse of beauty.

As a part of my own healing plan I will be found wandering in God's creation. Happy trails to each of you as you seek His healing presence in your lives. Find a healing path near you and look for the flower in the weeds, beauty in the leaves, special rock, or other piece of nature that reminds of you our Heavenly Father and Creator.

By His mercy and in the grip of His grace,
Andrea Bowling Perdue

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Being Me!

Every day is a new adventure with God. Not all days are easy, but each one is full of hidden beauty if we take the time to look beyond the pain to find it. How do I know? Well, like everyone else I've experienced a little pain over the years. Okay, more than a little but that is not my focus. Sure, I could focus on the pain and stay stuck in despair, however, I have chosen to live a life seeking the greater good.

From early childhood I remember crying out to God and He heard my prayers. How do I know? Because, I got answers. They came without anyone knowing that I had asked for them. You see, most of my prayers have been silent prayers. Over the years, my most effective prayers have been those shared with NO OTHER HUMAN, but whispered from deep within my soul to the heart of God.

You may say, "I don't believe you! Prove it!"

The proof: I've become more and more content over the years being the person God created me to be. I'm still not there yet and I may never be there on this side of eternity, but I'm content running the race of life He's called me to.

While my contentment may or may not be enough proof and certainly not scientific proof; if you look around you will find most humans are NOT content. In fact, many humans are not even sure what they want and then when they get what they think they want they are still not happy.

Lest you think I have it all together allow me to clear that up here and now. I still ask God for "things" I do not need and probably would not be happy with if they were given to me. My prayers are not perfect and neither is anything else about me. I am human.

What I long to convey to anyone who is struggling with past hurts whether they are of their own doing or because of wounds inflicted by others is:

* GOD is greater than the pain you are experiencing and HE desires to see you through to the end. HE will use your pain to make you a better person if you will allow HIM and HE will use it for the greater good of all.

Largely, my life and purpose does not make sense to most people. I am happy when I see a glimmer of hope in the life of another human. To see a smile emerge from pain is one of the greatest joys of my life. Sure, it can be difficult to walk alongside other hurting people, but it is also a beautiful blessing. I count it an honor and a privilege.

Some people are called to build roads to new civilizations, become doctors, lawyers, missionaries, and businessmen. Some of us do not have fancy titles nor could we handle them if we had them. When asked if I work I usually say "no!" My answer makes my husband a little crazy, because he knows and sees what I do. By the worlds standards I do not work because I do not get a formal paycheck. My reward is far greater than money. I am happy "trying" to be the person God created me to be.

By HIS mercy and in the grip of HIS grace,
Andrea Bowling Perdue

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Dakota Lee

On March 2nd, God gave us another beautiful granddaughter. Her name is Dakota Lee and we know GOD has great plans for her. With each new life God has brought into our lives I have realized how powerful and gracious our Lord is.

No matter what the circumstances of birth each child was created by our Heavenly Father and He does NOT make mistakes. HE has a perfect plan. For centuries, humans have judged many people regarding the circumstances of their conception and birth. Yet, GOD says, "I knew you before you were born. I created you!" Well, I don't know about you, but my GOD does NOT make mistakes nor does HE mess up.

So, if you are an adult child who has been plagued by "what other humans thought" through out your life, STOP focusing on the worlds view and focus on the words of your HEAVENLY FATHER! HE loves HIS children and wants what is best for each one of them.

So, while Doug and I embrace the journey GOD has for us with our beautiful grandchildren I pray each of you would grab hold of the blessings GOD has set before you and run the race HE has called you to run.

Happy trails, my friends. Doug and I will be found spoiling....I mean loving our four beautiful grands. What about you?

By HIS mercy and in the grip of HIS grace,

Andrea Bowling Perdue

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Never Walk Alone

"When I walk into the thick of trouble, keep me alive in the angry turmoil. With one hand strike my foes, With your other hand save me. Finish what you started in me, God. Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now." Psalm 138:7-8 The Message

Life is complicated and has many twists and turns. I don't think I know anyone who has a life free of complications. Sure there are some who are enduring extreme hardship while others are hitting what looks like potholes in the road we call life. If you are the one who is free from any complication we are thankful and praise God with you, but if you are amongst those who find many days a challenge you are not alone.

Sometimes, we isolate ourselves. Isolation is never a good plan. During those dark days most of us just become more consumed with the pain of what's going on. Often, it is hard for us to focus on God while we stand alone. Yes, God is with us, but many times we do not feel Him.

If you find yourself in a dark place seek out a healthy friendship. Seek someone who can walk alongside you giving gentle nudges towards Jesus when needed. This healthy person is not someone you should expect to have the answer to your problem, but someone who will stand with you praying and encouraging you. Never walk alone.

If you see someone in a dark place don't be afraid to stand with them. You don't have to fix their problem. You need only allow Jesus to shine through you as you love, encourage, and pray for your friend. It's not your job to have the answers. That's God's job. So, take a deep breath and take a long walk with a friend who could use some fresh air.

By HIS mercy and in the grip of HIS grace,
Andrea Bowling Perdue

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Dark Night~Journal Notes

When at the end of myself....I was unable to think or function on my own. Not all times were times of extreme suffering, but in my life many have been.
It's been a peeling away of things...some good and some not so good.
As I reflect, every dark night has produced a better me.

God heals my soul not in the doing, but in the being with HIM. God loved me so much He took me into the dark night so I would learn not to depend on feelings or other external things, but to live a life of simple trust (still learning). Looking back, I recognize I've grown through the pain while standing in the muck. 
I'm learning to face adversity looking for what God is going to do instead of looking at the mess.
Initially, I don't like a "new mess," but after a brief temper tantrum with God I'm beginning to say, "Lord, this is a mess and I can't wait to see what You are going to do."

I'm learning to wait on God's goodness and perfect timing. My feelings are superficial and limited. I like feelings and emotion, but my love and my relationship with God goes far deeper than feelings. He is fully present with me whether I feel Him or not and I need to be okay with that.

I want to live a life worthy of God's calling....I want to be deliberate, but I struggle. When I'm able to see the good in any given mess I'm able to receive His peace. Eventually, I'm able to find purpose in the pain.

I'm learning to lean into God even on days when I can't see or feel Him.....trusting Him when it doesn't make sense by earthly standards or views.....and waiting on God when I don't want to (probably the hardest).

The souls heartbeat and breath never stops. One day we transition to eternity and I'm thankful I've seen and observed God in this moment in the lives of others. Yet, I feel as though I was a bit of an intruder whose brushed the garment of the Lord.

There have been times I've slept with my bible, yet I couldn't think enough to read it. Doing so represented in some way the only hope I could cling to. During those times I couldn't feel God or see Him......or even comprehend how things could be better much less "right." I know God was working....I can now look back and see that.

The things I sought to hold onto during the dark night were peeled  away and I don't miss them anymore.....well, accept my memory and I'm still working on being okay with that one. I'm praising GOD for what He has given me back and leaving my focus there rather than on the times I struggle. I'm learning to be okay with God's plan. I hope to one day be able to trust God as easily as I breath.......every time I think about "trusting" God...I think about breathing.....constant, steady, smooth, and peaceful....a divine rhythm of Holy God living in us.

"4 1-3 In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.
4-6 You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.
7-13 But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is,
He climbed the high mountain,
He captured the enemy and seized the booty,
He handed it all out in gifts to the people.
Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.
14-16 No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love." Ephesians 4:1-16 The Message

By HIS mercy and in the grip of HIS grace,
Andrea Bowling Perdue

Monday, January 12, 2015

My Plan Versus God's Plan

Did you start your journey through life with a beautiful plan? I did! Well, I thought I had a "perfectly" beautiful plan. To say life has not turned out the way I planned it would be a little like saying water plus dirt equals mud. What we call in our family "a no-brainer" or "duh."

Many of the plans I had over the years were not wrong in and of themselves. Each were worthy life goals. The problem was they were not what God wanted for me.

By nature, I am selfish and want my own way.I want to be in control and I am stubborn to a fault. Now, my family and close friends have it in writing with my name signed to it. In one paragraph I have confessed both my greatest strengths and weaknesses. It truly is what you do with the strengths God gives you. The choice is mine whether to use them for good or harm.

My desire has always been to be the "perfect" wife, mother, and friend while holding down a successful career. Let's just say the journey has been long, hard, and humbling. While I haven't messed up entirely I have messed up a lot along the way. Before I fall into the pit of despair taking you with me let me share the beauty of God's love, grace, forgiveness, and redemption.

God has a plan I still can not fully see. He has taken all of those weaknesses, strengths, times of getting it right, and times of sin and failure and weaved them into what Doug and I affectionately call a "Beautiful Mess!"

Through sickness and life's messes God carried me. He gave me a husband who while walking in his own pain gently loved me and walked with me when I wasn't sure I could put one foot in front of the other physically, emotionally, or spiritually. God was fully present with me when I could not form words to pray or even express my needs. When I became fearful of humans and their judgement God used the most unlikely of people along the way to drag me out of that fear and into His presence. I wish I could say the fear is completely gone, but occasionally it rears its ugly head. Yes, ugly. Fear is not of GOD. God wants us to trust Him.

If you asked me at any point in my life I would have always said, "I trust God" and on some level I have always trusted God, but never before like I do today. My trust in God is ever growing. He is stretching me and yes, being stretched scares me.

I'm not doing what I thought I would be doing. The life I live is no where near the plan I had for my life. I don't have a title for what I do. By the worlds standards there is no monetary reason to do what I do. And, when questioned I continue to stumble as to explain how I spend my days or what value I give to this world.

While once bothered by what others thought or perceived about this allusive and strangely unique career God has given me I'm becoming more comfortable. I am becoming me and I actually sort of like me. You heard me. I like the person I am becoming. Yes, I still get scared of all the unknowns and when in a room full of my friends who are highly intelligent professionals I can sometimes feel myself drift toward insecurity and the feeling of "not being good enough." There is instantly what I call a check in my spirit. God grabbing a hold of me saying, "NO MAM....Do NOT go there, Andrea. You know that is a bad and unhealthy place that has absolutely NO value." Yes, God raises His glorious voice to me in my head. The cool thing is I am finally learning to listen to Almighty God and after forty eight years of running through this life, I'm a little closer to being secure in becoming who God created me to be.

"139 O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit or stand. When far away you know my every thought. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say before I even say it. You both precede and follow me and place your hand of blessing on my head.
This is too glorious, too wonderful to believe! I can never be lost to your Spirit! I can never get away from my God! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the morning winds to the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your strength will support me. 11 If I try to hide in the darkness, the night becomes light around me. 12 For even darkness cannot hide from God; to you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. 15 You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! 16 You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in your book!
17-18 How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can’t even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me.[a] And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!
19 Surely you will slay the wicked, Lord! Away, bloodthirsty men! Begone! 20 They blaspheme your name and stand in arrogance against you—how silly can they be? 21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you? Shouldn’t I be grieved with them? 22 Yes, I hate them, for your enemies are my enemies too.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. 24 Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." 
Psalm 139NLT

I am now finding "joy" in becoming who God called me to be whether it makes sense to me or anyone else. I often go back to Psalm 139 and read it out loud. It's a little like going back to my roots or revisiting where I came from or those places in life that were a part of what makes me who I am. God made me with a plan and gave me the freedom to find my way to that plan. He loves me when I get it right and He loves me when I stumble in the wrong direction. He is "always" there. 

So, as I continue to make peace with where I am and find joy in the presence of Almighty God while standing in the muck of life I pray the same for you. We may not be able to change where we are standing, but we can change our attitude about the situation. We can peacefully and joyfully cling to all that is good within us and that is God's spirit! 

Freedom comes while standing in the muck as you rejoice in the Lord! 

By His mercy and in the grip of His grace,

Andrea Bowling Perdue 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Seven Year Old Wisdom and Answered Prayer

Our Beautiful Blessings  

Recently, our oldest granddaughter, Savannah spent the day with me. I asked her how things were going at school expecting a normal response such as fine or great. Instead, she began telling me about a situation with some of her friends. She said her friends were saying something that was not nice. She explained to me they didn't know what they were saying was wrong, but she knew it was and she shared it with her teacher. She also told her teacher she didn't want her friends to get in trouble, because she knew they didn't understand what they were saying was not nice.

As I continued to listen, Savannah explained to me that her friends did not know Jesus and that's why they didn't understand they should not say, "OMG." She continued to explain why she had to tell her teacher . She said, "when you love your friends and family you have to do the right thing whether they like it or not."

At this point all I could say was, "that's right" and continued to listen. Speechless doesn't happen to me very often, but this was one of those times.

Savannah continued to share her heart by saying, "God created the world and he created me. I don't know how I know that, but I do!"

I hugged her and told her I loved her and I was thankful she was wise enough to do the right thing even when others might not like it.

This story is far from over. What you don't know is two nights before Savannah's visit I could not sleep. I was overcome with fear for my children and grandchildren and what "might" happen in their lives. I began to pour out my heart to God sharing fears for each of them, their spouses, children, and friends, and even future generations. As I began to share every detail of my fears with God, I prayed specifically that each of them would trust God and recognize His presence even when they didn't understand why. I reminded God that I could not remember a time when I did not know He was God and I had NOT  trusted Him even in the midst of my deepest fears. Eventually, I fell asleep. Two days later in the middle of a normal day Savannah shared her heart with me. What an affirmation to continue to trust GOD, no matter what!

So, when times come and you worry about the many ways you may have failed at parenting or the mistakes you may or may not have made, know that God truly is in control. Know He loves both you and your children far beyond what you can comprehend and He truly is at work in the midst of the messiness of this life, whether you understand or not. And if you are like me and you struggle with "doing the right thing,"  because you don't want to hurt the feelings of someone you love or get them in trouble, recognize "doing the right thing" is an act of LOVE!

"28 And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.
29 For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him—and all along he knew who would—should become like his Son, so that his Son would be the First, with many brothers. 30 And having chosen us, he called us to come to him; and when we came, he declared us “not guilty,” filled us with Christ’s goodness, gave us right standing with himself, and promised us his glory.
31 What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God is on our side, who can ever be against us?" Romans 8:28-31 NLT

By His mercy and in the grip of His grace,

Andrea Bowling Perdue