Sunday, December 29, 2013

Uncensored

I try not to sensor myself here, but sometimes that is difficult. In the past, I have been very, very blunt about where I am coming from and what I am dealing with.

Since I started sharing the blog with more people, I have used broader terms, even when I'm talking about something specific. Sometimes that is a good thing... sometimes I don't know.

It is important to me that I be real here.
People need to know that it is okay to be real.
Christians are real people, with real struggles.
And it's okay to talk about those struggles.
All of them.
Even the ones you don't want people to know about.

Why? Because they are struggling with the same things... and they don't want you to know either.

But Paul told us that He delights in his weaknesses as they are the way to let God's light shine through him. That is partly why I am doing this.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Cor 12:9-10

Please know that as I work up the courage to again delve into some dark places, the purpose is always to show God's strength in my own weaknesses in order to encourage others that He can do the same for them. Even on my bad days, when my posts seem negative, you can be sure that I write KNOWING that God is going to teach me something or turn the situation around in some way that helps encourage you.

Much of this is not easy stuff to talk about, but it's time that Christians understand that hiding their pains, fears and weaknesses isn't doing anyone any good... and it isn't going to bring healing or growth, something we should all strive for.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Failure

I wonder sometimes
if it wouldn't be easier
to just fail.

God is going to love me
the same
whether I walk the right path
or not...
why keep fighting so hard?

Business, parenting, love... all of it.
Go with the flow.
Don't bother with being responsible.
My life would be easier
if I could just give in,
if I could just give up.

Wouldn't it?

I want to say yes,
but I tried that before too.
On my own.
When everything I did was okay
and the consequences didn't matter...

It sounds easier, but in reality,
nothing was easier.
Everything was messier.
Nothing worked out right.
Ever.

But success? Success is hard!
It often seems so much harder
when I look at the work it takes
to make that happen.

The difference is that God promises this path,
the one He wants me to be on,
the one where I reach for success,
will eventually turn out okay.


Pulling these up to read to myself over and over, remembering that prosperity, profit and poverty can mean money, but also mean so much more when looking at the depth of one's life.

His favor rests on me and establishes the work of my hands. Psalms 90:17

 
And I will eat the fruit of my labor; blessings and prosperity will be mine. Psalms 128:2
 
All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23
 
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
I Corinthians 15:58

Working to remember these verses and focus on the promises You have given me, Lord. So that I can remember what I am supposed to be doing here instead of how hard it is and how the walk is affecting me.

Maintaining a thankful heart today...
Thankful that I am not battling in vain.
Thankful that You always keep Your promises.
Thankful that You walk with me, whether I feel You or not.

Thankful that You understand wanting to give up, wanting the cup to be taken from you, and knowing that the Father's plan was better than the one you were wishing for at that moment.
Failure isn't an option.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Finally getting over it for good

As much as I want to be not single anymore, I know that God is working on me to get me to a place where I can be emotionally healthy enough for a real relationship. Every time I surprise myself by making a good choice, I'm not only surprised by the choice itself, but reminded that if this kind of thing is a surprise... I still have a ways to go.

It is hard, but I also know it will be worth it. I don't want someone to have to 'settle' for the girl I am when I have so much more potential... and while the changes are both fast and slow, I know change won't impact my life in a lasting way, if I try to do it all by myself, or all overnight.


In the past, I have had a bad habit of holding on to exes. Over the last several months I have cut the cords on a lot of those relationships and been pretty proud of myself for doing so.

There is one in particular that has alluded me though. I would declare myself "over him" and go for weeks without thinking about J, and then something would bring him to mind. I always took that as an opportunity to pray for him... but then I'd start the emotional roller-coaster of, "What if."

(I've written about J here before... we broke up the day before I thought he was going to propose... and it is what started the spiral that led me to move here.)

I recently realized I had this fantasy about him seeing the changes going on in my life and realizing I was good enough for him now. That one hit me kind of hard... "good enough"...? How good could a relationship have actually been if I spent most of it just being grateful that he let me hang around and at the same time, spent most of that time also afraid he was going to leave because I wasn't really good enough for him?

Fear is not love.

Yesterday, after I decided it was time to get out of bed and get a shower and some dinner... I grabbed a sweatshirt to put on and realized it was one of his. I took it back off and grabbed another and asked myself, "Why do I still have that thing?"

While I was out driving after that I decided that it was time to throw that stuff away. The sweatshirt, the jacket, the expensive bottle of tequila I'd bought to give him on Valentines Day, not knowing we weren't going to make it that long and held on to all this time. Time to get over it, right? Right... and then I put it out of my mind.

Late last night a mutual friend commented on one of J's pictures on Facebook, which was weird because he NEVER posts pictures publicly. I clicked on it and saw it was him and his girlfriend, happy, smiling.

That's when the weirdest thing happened...

I realized I didn't care.


When the enemy finds a way to distract you from your walk with God, he will exploit it as much as possible. In hindsight, the whole thing will likely seem ridiculous. It does to me right now.

How much time have I spent remembering and wishing for the good parts of that relationship? How many times have I gone through a break-up since then and didn't cry for the guy I had just lost... but for the "this would have never happened if..." of J? Every single time, drawing my focus from where it should have been.

Took out some trash this afternoon. Feeling pretty good about meaning it this time when I say I'm 'over it'...

God has a better plan and I happy to give up the piece of my own that I have been secretly clutching.

When I started praying that God's will for my life be the most important thing to me... I never realized how much of my own I had left to let go, and I never imagined how good it would feel to be able to do so. 
 
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Another Christmas survived...

I used to love Christmas.

It was my absolute favorite time of the year.

I still love the songs. I still love the story.
(and that it is so much more than a story...)
But this time of year is hard now.
I have to believe it will some day be fun again.
Someday.

Today, when the kids left, I went to bed, trying to get the day to go away.
Though the next six hours were a mishmash of sleep, tears and snot...
(lovely picture, I know... that comforter is sooo going to the laundromat this week...)
I didn't fall back on any of my old stand-by 'feel-better' measures...
I know they only worked temporarily anyway.
Feeling better temporarily isn't worth breaking the promises that I've made
when God has been so faithful to me with His promises over the last year.

I'm not against drinking alcohol from time to time... but not specifically with the purpose of forgetting that I am having a bad day. So I haven't touched it today.
I didn't call any old friends who would get me into trouble... which is what I did last year.

So while my Christmas this year has been a bit rougher, and a little less "fun"...
I know I'll come through it with fewer regrets than last year.
And that is including the massive amount of Chinese food I ate a bit ago...

So, I don't have any deep message to share.
No big miracles happened today.
Some days the blog is just about accountability...
and keeping track of the changes God is making in my life.

Hopefully one year soon, I'll be able to look back at this Christmas
and say, "Wow, life has really changed... I'm so glad I waited patiently for
the plan that God had for me... instead of continuing to try to make my own,
even when the waiting was difficult."

 
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. Isaiah 43:2
 
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

Sunday, December 22, 2013

He is never surprised

God really likes to keep me guessing.

Maybe it is because of the fact that I am still in awe when He pulls something together, seemingly at the last minute, and I see the long line of events that brought me to that moment. I say seemingly because I know that the things that surprise me, He has known about since the beginning of time.

Today the surprise was tires... but not just the tires...

So, I have been waiting for this very large check to come. I have plans for most of it as soon as it gets here. One thing that I was going to do was get tires. Mine were REALLY bad. Not safe. But the check hasn't come.

I keep saying that God knows where the check is and when it is coming and His timing is perfect. IT is true. I totally believed it. However, in the mean time, Christmas is coming and I am struggling financially. As much as He is blessing and taking care of us, it has been difficult to accept help. It is so easy to say in response to an offer of help, "Surely there is someone else who needs this." or "Yes, we can use one of those, but God is taking care of us..."

But Friday morning He showed me that by holding on to that check, and keeping it from reaching me right now, God has been forcing me to allow others to bless me. Seriously, if I had that check in hand, I would have said, "Oh no... you can give that to someone who really needs it." or even "I know a family... maybe I should help them out since I can right now."

In reality, while this check can give a small business a boost (the purpose for the check) but it is not an exorbitant amount of money. While I have plans to spend it wisely, I know that the business will use most of it up fairly quickly...

So beyond making me accept blessings from others, He has ensured I'll make it through the holiday season without being tempted to spend it in the wrong places.
In the mean time, my tires have been getting worse and worse. They all needed filled almost daily. One even had a noticeable high-pitched whine from the air that was escaping. It was ridiculously unsafe. Especially with a layer of ice on the ground.

Several people expressed concern about the tires, and one asked me if he could just buy me new tires. My gut reaction was, "Thank you, but no." but I told him I would pray about it when he assured me that there were no strings attached, he just wanted to be a blessing. Honestly, I still felt really uncomfortable about it... but I told him I would pray about it and I did. But I didn't really get an answer.

One of the ways that someone else had blessed us was a gift card to Tractor Supply Company help buy the kids new boots. Again, I really struggled with accepting it, but when I had the epiphany about why God hasn't let me have the check yet, I realized I didn't really have a choice.

The TSC closest to my house didn't have the sizes I needed, so I drove to a neighboring town to see if they did. The thirty minute drive there made it clear that I was in trouble. My alignment was off. The wheel jerked back and forth as I drove. My low-tire light kept flashing at me. I left TSC with the boots I was looking for and my heart sank as I saw I needed air in my tires again.

That's when I started talking to God out loud in the car. It went a little something like this, "I don't know what you want me to do. If you can keep these tires going for a couple more weeks and keep us safe, fine... but tell me and quit making me worry. Do you want me to accept help from that guy? I would need a very real sign to be able to do that." At this point I was yelling a little bit. "I'm sorry I'm stupid, that I need things spelled out for me, but I do... so spell it out. Tell me to do."

A few seconds... yes SECONDS... later, I turned a corner in the string of connected parking lots, to see a Firestone store with the OPEN sign lit up in the window. "Really?" I don't believe in coincidences, so I went in and asked what tires they had available. They didn't have my size in stock. They could order them though. Then, the manager stopped and looked again. "I had a no-show this morning that had ordered tires this size. If you want them, they are yours."

I was wondering if this was sign I was supposed to ask that person who had offered help to do so when I saw the sign on the wall for 6months same as cash. I applied. I prayed. I was approved. I fought tears at the tire counter. An hour later I was driving away. As long as I pay for the tires with my check when it comes, I will not have to pay interest. Also, I got a discount because I used their credit card to get them.

If I hadn't allowed myself to be blessed with the gift card to TSC, I wouldn't have been in that neighboring town today, yelling at God for not answering me when I want Him to. (It happens a lot. It never seems to phase Him though...) I wouldn't have found these tires... and none of this would have happened.

While I was surprised at how things worked out today, He is never surprised. He knows that I am actively trying to seek His will in all things (even though I often fail) and He wanted me to know that He is paying attention... and taking care of my needs.

After I finished getting my tires and doing some Christmas shopping in the neighboring stores, I went through the Starbucks drive-through. A friend had given me a gift card, so I ordered my usual iced tea and then gave in and ordered a Panini as well. The voice through the speaker said, "Oh, we never have any of those left this late in the day. Let me check." She came back just a few seconds later and said, "We did have one left. That never happens! God must have wanted you to have one today!"

And while her comment surprised me... it didn't surprise Him at all.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alone

If I only share the positive, then none of what I write matters.
I am tired, angry, and frustrated at the moment.


I can say it over and over.
Sometimes I even convince myself it’s true.

As long as I have Jesus
I am not alone.

But let’s be real here…
(because if you haven’t noticed
I’m all about being real here…)

I am still alone.

Go ahead and argue with me.
Remind me of every amazing thing
God has done
and is doing
in my life.
I know!
Tell me how much worse
other people have it.
I know that too.

I will tell you that
Monday night I went to a Christmas program by myself.
Tuesday night I went to a funeral alone.
Tonight was another Christmas program.
I have no Christmas decorations up.
I haven’t done one bit of actual shopping.
I can’t wait for my kids to go away for the weekend.
I feel awful for saying that.
It doesn’t make it less true.

Promises are comforting
But they don’t park the car.
And they don’t make the dinner.
And they don’t do the laundry.
And they don’t clean the house.
And they don’t make holiday plans.
And they don’t stand up for you when nobody will listen.
I do all those things, and so much more.
Alone.

The worst part is knowing
it will be this way
for a very long time.
I don’t like to admit it…
but I know.

Now you’re probably thinking,
 “Hey, isn’t this the girl
who keeps telling us
this life isn’t about her?
It sure sounds like she thinks it is…”

I know that too.

Unfortunately for me, I’m also still human
And as I’ve said before… humanity sucks.

Thank God for mercies that are new every morning.
Praying that tomorrow will be a much better day.
Not banking on it though.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Till He appeared


O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.

How do I explain to you
what He means to me?
How do I explain
the differences I see
when I look at myself
such a short time
after truly committing
to understand His love?
Someone else did it already.
I’ve heard it a hundred times,
but never really listened...

 Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
 
I wandered a long time
In my own sin and error
Pining away? You tell me…
 

Sounds pretty familiar, in hindsight.
How could any heart not be broken
that doesn’t truly realize
how much it is worth?

How could anyone who doesn’t see
the kind of sacrifice He made
just to spend eternity with them
not be slowly wasting away?

That line, those words,
“Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth”
bring tears,
even though 
I’ve sung it
     a hundred times before.
          A connection was made.

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

What a thrill hope is.
I’ve been hopeless
just before that tiny shaft of light
pierced through what I saw
and brought me hope
that there was something
besides the darkness
I had confined myself to.

Those of us who are 
no longer headed for death
have no reason to continue
sitting in the darkness.

The best thrill of my life.
Exhausted from my struggles
I couldn’t not rejoice
at the new morning
that He brought forth.
 
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born

The world was different that night.
Changed. 
     Forever.
          Just like me
               when my soul felt its worth. 






Sunday, December 8, 2013

All my needs

I used to say I wasn't designed to live life on my own.
And I was right.
I just didn't understand
what "not on my own"
was supposed to mean.
But I now know
I was designed to live a life
depending on God
and trusting in His plans for me.
Knowing He will meet
ALL of my needs.

Even the needs that I don't necessarily want met.

I know I needed to see
that couple in their nineties
married seventy years
when their faces lit up
as they laid eyes on each other
after being separated for a few days.

I know I needed to see
that young bride
waiting outside
her apartment door,
because she couldn't wait
to see her husband
come home from work.


I know I needed to see
that look in a friend's eyes
when he talks about her
and their past, present and future.
for so many reasons.
Mostly to know
the reason for that look
exists in real life.

All true stories
All so very different
from my own experiences
and while it is wonderful to know 
that kind of love exists,
it can be frustrating to know that
it doesn't exist for me.
At least, not yet.

But that doesn't mean I didn't need to see it.

Keeping busy with work
surrounding myself with friends
reading books,
writing blog posts
packing my schedule
until I'm exhausted
none of those things
fill that empty feeling I have
from wanting what they have.

But I made promises.
And I won't compromise.
I know that in the end
I'm going to be so glad
that I waited for God
to open the right door
to the right future
at the right time.

Paul talked about
God's power being
made perfect
in his weakness.
But today I want to say
"Okay God, I get this lesson,
pick another weakness
and let me move forward here."

Then I have to remember
my life isn't about me...
so when something happens
if it ever happens
it will be a story
that lets His glory shine through
and His timing will be perfect.

I've said before that
other people's souls
are more important
than my earthly life.
So, if being alone
for one more week
made some part of my story
that much more compelling
that God was able to use it
to capture a soul from the brink of Hell,
would I agree to one more week?
What if He asked me to wait a month?
What if He asked me to wait a year?
What if He asked me to wait more?

I wish I had a resounding Yes.
Because I know that is the "right" answer.
But I'm human.
So I'm going to say
"I can do it for a few more days, Lord...
Ask me again after that."

In the mean time, I can't spend my time
trying to fulfill my neediness with other people,
when I know He is waiting for me to come to Him
so that His power can be made perfect in my weakness.




And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2–3

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Bootstraps



My story has been described
as one of a woman
who fell on hard times
pulling herself up by her bootstraps to succeed.
That isn’t completely true.

I didn’t fall on hard times.

I climbed into them,
sometimes blindly,
but almost always willingly.
I thought that the times
that begat my hard times
were the answers 
to my misguided prayers.

I never bothered to look to God and say,
 “Is this from You?”
While I can’t say for certain,
it is almost undoubtedly true
that I never asked
because I already knew the answer.   

The Bible clearly states that God hates sin.
God doesn’t reward sin.
God doesn’t offer sin as a reward.
But if the situations before my hard times
were something that I thought I wanted,
there was no stopping me.

The most successful path to Hell
is slow and steady.
No sharp turns or drops.
No reason to make us think
we might be wrong.

Murder is a great sin, as sins go
But Satan is safer to turn us into
gossips and time wasters
who won’t be jolted 
back to reality
until it is too late.

Everyone has their breaking point
the enemy found mine
and no doubt took delight
in watching my struggle.
I broke and fell to the ground.
There, on my knees,
is where I was when I looked up
towards Heaven
for help
and hope.

God let me do things my own way, 
though He has the power 
to make me do 
whatever He wants. 
 He let me make 
my own choices
my own mistakes
knowing that when I finally came to Him 
in complete and willing surrender, 
it would be real and lasting.

When I finally waved that white flag,
that is when He showed me 
those bootstraps 
and how to pull myself up… 
by grabbing ahold of His hand.

Thank You Lord, 
for Your patience and Your grace.
I will spend the rest of my life telling people
how awesome You really are...
and it still won't be long enough
to show how truly grateful I am.