Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It doesn't matter

While sharing with a friend about how the ending of the other friendship has really confused me lately, he said something that made me stop and think. "Nobody has to be your friend. The answers you are getting don't make sense, but what does it matter? You aren't owed friendship. Maybe he just changed his mind. So what? The outcome is the same."

My only possible response was, "But he said..." I didn't say it though, because I realized he was right. It doesn't matter. The choice was made and has nothing to do with me. 

God and I were having a conversation about this as I was driving and I heard, "I told you to let it go. You aren't changing any minds by arguing or explaining, and I've already told you I've got this."

"You're right, God. I can do this. I can let it go. In fact, I can not care at all. They'll see. Doesn't bother them? Fine. Doesn't phase me either. If they can not care, I can too."

That's when God said, "Wow, that doesn't sound like forgiveness at all."

Thankfully, He timed that comment with a stretch of straight road, because I froze. "Wait, what!?" It hit me for the first time that letting go means forgiving too. "But, that's just not fair! Didn't You see? Didn't You hear? Didn't You...?"

He got really quiet after that, because I knew the answers to those questions.

He knows. He heard. He saw. It doesn't matter.

I know that when God tells me to do something, I have to do it... regardless of the situation, my feelings, my reasoning, or what anyone else involved is doing. It doesn't matter if I'm still confused or hurt or wish I could say just one more thing... It doesn't matter.

The question of how to do what He's saying? That one is a bit trickier... but if He made everything easy, I wouldn't have anything to write about! And how much fun would that be?

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, 
if you love one another.
~John 13:34-35

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, 
it keeps no record of wrongs.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wonderfully foolish

Have you ever wondered what God would do, could do, if you gave Him the chance? Have you stopped to consider the potential ramifications of making faith a first response to circumstances instead of having to remind yourself that God is in control after an initial stressed-out period? What if your first response wasn't just to ask God what to do, but to just KNOW He would take care of it.

Some people will tell me that I have to live in reality, that I am being foolish. I say that I'm wonderfully happy with that kind of foolishness. They will tell me that God gives us the ability to reason and use logic so that we will use it. That may be true. But shouldn't that be the route we take after asking God how He wants us to handle something first?

Should we trust him only for big things? Only for little? Time and time again I have given up, loudly proclaimed, "I need you to handle this, God!" and He has... over and over. Whether the issue is big or small, He has come through. Sometimes I forget until I have stressed out about the issue for awhile. Other times He comes through faster than I can decide whether I am meant to let Him fix it or use the resources he's given me to take care of it myself, in His strength and provision.

How many stories can I tell you from just the last few weeks? Many. And the funny thing is, there are probably more times He has come through for me and I don't even know about them.  I'm just going to share this one story for the moment.

Here is what happened yesterday:

Applying for a grant that require that requires I bring original social security cards for the whole family. I grabbed the two I have (of five I needed), and told the woman behind the desk, "I can bring the other two in, I just don't have them. My ex-husband keeps them because he thinks I will lose them."

She told me I have only two weeks to do so or my application will be denied no matter what. Then she said, "Wait, there are five in your household. Whose card are we not accounting for?"

Sheepishly, I told her, "Mine. Um, I can't find it at the moment."

Next she went on to tell me that there were no substitutions allowed. If I didn't find it within two weeks, I would be denied for the program. I assured her I would find it while silently thinking about the boxes I needed to go through on the porch and telling God that I was really going to need His help with this one.

I left the office with the deadline on my mind, but had another appointment to get to. I didn't have time to think about it too much.

A few hours later I asked my ex-husband for the kids' cards. He put three cards in my hand. "You can keep yours if you want," He said. "I guess I've had it for 11 years."

Praise the Lord! :-) He knew exactly what I was going to need and when I would need... 11 years go.

Maybe some will think I was a fool for asking for help for something so small, but He keeps coming through for me... think I'm crazy for giving glory to God for something so "silly"? It's okay... I get you don't understand... you will!

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, 
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
~ 1 Corinthians 1:18

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Saturday night

Used to spending Saturday nights with
friends I no longer have, it would be easy,
more than easy, to fall back into those
"before-I-was-made-new" habits.

I haven't yet decided what I want to do
as this weekend approaches. It will be
one of just a few "kid-free" Saturday nights
we have not hung out in the last year.

It's not really that I lack possibilities of
finding other Saturday entertainment.
Maybe I'll even go on a date or something
now that I have a Saturday night free... maybe.

But making new plans means concretely accepting
that the time we all enjoyed together is really over.
While I'd love to believe it's fixable and we can
go back, we can't, and I probably shouldn't want to.

But that doesn't make it easier to actually close
the door, admitting I have lost friends I love,
who have been an important part of walking with me
through the changes God has made in me so far.

Maybe it's because the severing is so upsetting
that the enemy believes I will fall. In fact,
he has been putting opportunities directly
into my path, over and over in the last few weeks.

I don't think he realizes that he is only
strengthening my resolve to do what's right.
But what is that? I mean, I could take this
as another crushing blow, like I did last week.

Or, I can shake it off and move on, towards
whatever God has prepared for me instead.

Yeah, I choose that one.

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
~Isaiah 41:10

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
~Romans 15:13

Monday, October 20, 2014

Not too late

Yesterday at church I sat in my seat and cried
with my arm around  my 16 year old daughter
as I watched two parents embracing, sobbing,
at the front of the small, but crowded sanctuary.

Each the parent of a teen girl lost to suicide,
one this weekend, one a few weeks ago.

This morning I sat on my bed and sobbed
as I read the blog post of a mother whose
baby didn't wake up from his nap last week.
He was perfectly healthy two days before.

But his mother, father and four siblings
spent his 2nd birthday planning a funeral.

I'm often reminded that these kids who
live in my house, eat my food, ask me
for advice, and money, and call me mom,
aren't really mine in any permanent sense.

On loan from God, He could take them back
at any time, in any place, in any fashion.

I've had to ask Him for forgiveness for times
this was forgotten and my will became priority. 
So many times I made life about me, dragging
them along for the ride as if they didn't matter.

And while not to the degree that it once did,
it still happens more often than I'd like to admit.

Several weeks ago after dealing with an afternoon
of abnormal disrespect and back-talk and downright
defiance, I caved, crying on my bed, messaging
a friend about their behavior and my guilt in it all.

How can they talk to me like this? Who do they think
they are? It's official... I've ruined them. Now what?

We bounced back from that day, but the defeat
left a bruise on my heart, and in some ways,
a resignation to the fact that the pain I brought us
in years past, will continue to color our lives.

Don't get me wrong, as kids go, mine are awesome.
But often I wonder how much damage my bad choices
really did to them and how it will affect the rest of their lives
and if it is too late to make an impact by living rightly.

Today I thought about
what those other parents would say,
if I stopped striving for better... because I thought it was already too late.

There is only one way that it is ever too late.

I am so thankful for God who never looked at me and thought, "It's too late to help that one..." 
He saved me from the pit of destruction that I created with my own hands... and in doing so He saved them too. 

17 Surely it was for my benefit
that I suffered such anguish.
In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins
behind your back.
18 For the grave cannot praise you,
death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness.
19 The living, the living—they praise you,
as I am doing today;
parents tell their children
about your faithfulness.
~Isaiah 38:17-19

18 So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. 
~Deuteronomy 11:18-20 NLT

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Doing better

Doing much better tonight.

I wish is wasn't so difficult
to remember sometimes,
that God is in control.
I wish lots of things had
worked out differently,
but am thankful tonight
that His grace is enough.

God is good, no matter what happens.
He has a plan and it isn't always clear from where I am standing.

When I asked Him to shine through the cracks yesterday,
and focused on letting Him take care of my heart
I started seeing things differently.

None of the circumstances have changed, and if I dwell on it I could still be upset. But if I've learned nothing else over these last several months, it's that God has a better plan than I do. Holding on to that today.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
~Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.” 
~Psalm 32:8 (NIV)

“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” 
~Psalm 118:8 (NIV)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Shine through

Crushed by the loss of my best friend,
(the friendship ended, nobody died)

I've been reeling for days.

Oddly enough, knowing it's over 
has been easier on me
than the days leading up to,
when I knew that was happening
and was just being told to wait.  
Rip the band-aid off quickly
     quit making me hang in limbo.
Cruel, but not unusual punishment.

No fault was accepted by them
and not one apology offered
by the now absent friend.
And the fallout from the loss
has likely ruined at least
a couple of other friendships.
Praying I can suck it up enough
to not have to change the areas
where I serve at church as well. 

My overly emotional reactions
were blamed for the severing,
proof someone doesn't understand
me as well as I thought, nor
women and their friendships,
or what fear of abandonment
can do to a girl like me.

The most meaningful thing was said to me today:
"You do not deserve to be abandoned—especially for the cause of wanting not to be abandoned." 

The panic and tears overwhelmed me
several times today, forcing me to pray, sing,
or just out loud ask God to make it stop.
It. Make IT stop. It has a name: Grief. 
I'm so tired of losing, grieving losses, of being broken.

Reading today, He reminded me... it is in my weaknesses that His strength is shown. If I had none, then how would anyone see Him in my life? If I am a fragile clay jar, containing His light, nobody will see it unless there are some cracks for the light to shine through.

Well, there is another great big one, God... please find a way to shine through it.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.
~2 Corinthians 4:7 


Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Praying for direction tonight, awaiting some confirmation.
Praying for a quick resolution, but afraid that it won't be the one I hope for.

No heartbreak is worse than one pressed upon you by a close friend.
I've felt a familiar panic tonight as the friend in this scenario holds all the power.

I'm just along for the ride again and it's scary and confusing to me,
waiting to discuss things with them and waiting until they are ready to talk.

I worked so hard to become new and the person who has supported
and cheered me on the most has decided to believe the worst of me.

"Reasons and seasons" I've been told today. Let them go. They've served their purpose.
Considering the state of my heart right now, I could easily fathom it. But it wouldn't be right.

Real friendship means more to me than that, and this was real. I have to do something
Even if that means stepping away until the truth becomes clear, because it will.

Still waiting on direction. Hoping for a conversation.

This quote kept coming to mind tonight, I had to look it up:

"Your patient must demand that all his own utterances are to be taken at their face value and judged simply on the actual words, while at the same time judging all his mother's utterances with the fullest and most oversensitive interpretation of the tone and the context and the suspected intention. She must be encouraged to do the same to him. Hence from every quarrel they can both go away convinced, or very nearly convinced, that they are quite innocent." -Screwtape Letters
We've all done it before. We'll all do it again. The enemy is slick and knows just how to confuse us best. It's not the whole problem, but it played a big part in this one. So many assumptions floating around tonight, still waiting to be worked out, if there is any chance at all. Praying there is.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those 
who are crushed in spirit. - Psalm 34:18

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Showing off

I felt like such a whiner when I put up my last post. But it was truly how I felt, so I hit publish. More than one person thanked me for writing about the desire to be defended and told me they understood because they felt the same. It was a great reminder about why I am writing, even when I don't feel like I have anything positive to write about. Thank you for the encouragement. :-)

Today though, I do have something positive to write about.

I broke my phone.
Like really, unfixably broke it.

Just wait, it gets better... let's back up a tiny bit here.

I think it's important to do things for myself from time to time. Occasionally, I go to the mall and get a massage. I budget that 30 minutes of heaven in carefully and had been thinking that I could go in this week...even though I knew that I was pushing my budget to do so.

Then, at church this morning, I dropped my phone during corporate prayer, rendering it useless. I felt sick. I can't run a business without that phone working. What was I going to do!?! I was already at prayer... Yes, I prayed for my phone. Laid hands on it right there. Someone else even prayed for my phone with me. It still didn't work.

"Well, there goes that massage as well as a lot of other money I don't have," I thought.

I had signed up to volunteer at our local Christian radio station to take fundraising calls today starting after prayer, but I can't do business without a phone... so I briefly considered skipping out in order to try to figure out what to do about my phone. But I couldn't do that. I had said I would be there, and I LOVE the people at the station. They have been a huge part of my story. So, instead I prayed for direction and asked God to show me how He wanted me to take care of this before heading on to the station.

Between calls a friend of mine came back and saw my broken phone and commented. I told her, "I did it just before coming here today and decided God is just going to have to take care of it because I don't know what to do." Almost immediately another station employee, one who had been working with us volunteers, said, "I have an iPhone with a cracked screen. My mom surprised me with a new one. It's just sitting on my table if you want it." Shocked, I thanked her and told her I would only need it a few days until I figured something else out. She shook her head and said, "No, you can have it."

Wow God, I totally did not see that one coming... I'm going to pick it up at her place in the morning.

Awesome, right!?! Wait... it gets better.

A couple of hours later, as I was picking up my things to leave the station, a woman in scrubs came around the corner of cubicles and announced they were there to give chair massages to volunteers if anyone was interested. You mean, similar to the one I can't afford but was hoping to try to fit in anyway?

Now, that's just God showing off... (I love it when He does that!)

You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
~Psalm 139:5-6 (NLT)

What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins? Yet God does not forget a single one of them. 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.

~Luke 12:6-7 (NLT)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Defensive wounds

My youngest daughter's father wanted to talk about something. So instead of sending a text or calling to say, "When are you free to talk?" He was waiting in the foyer when my church service let out last night. I told him to leave and that I would talk to him later, walking away. Then, partly to keep him from approaching me again, I stood near a male friend.

Just standing near someone who, from the ex's perspective, I may or may not be dating, or who may or may not stand up for me if he pushed the issue was enough to keep him away for awhile. Eventually that friend had to go. So I tried again to get the ex to leave. He tried to start an argument.

My 'Boundaries' reading kicked in and I told him to leave because we were not talking then or there. He went to the parking lot and I refused to walk outside until he got in his car and drove away. I called him shortly thereafter and he refused to talk because it wasn't on his terms.

I think I handled it okay on my own. And to be fair, there was nobody at the church who I expected to step in and back me up. But it doesn't make me long for that any less... to have someone step in and back me up, defend me, tell him that he doesn't have a right to harass me. At the very least, silently put an arm around me and walk me away from the situation without escalating it.

It's something I have always wanted. Even when I was married, my husband wasn't the kind of man who would do that. There were times I begged him to defend me. He wouldn't. No man I've dated since would look at my kids or my mom or someone else who was being disrespectful and say, "I won't allow you to talk that way about/to her."

A few months ago I wrote this about my ex-husband and his wife:

While I have forgiven them for what happened,
it is hard to understand why God would honor a relationship
that tore my marriage apart, letting them find happiness
and marriage in spite of the pain they caused,
while I continue to struggle on my own. (-Not about the boy)

A few days later, my ex-husband showed me the blog post and told me that someone had sent it to him. I don't know who it was, nor do I care. For the record, I had every intention of getting my husband back... of putting my family back together. But what he had with her at the time was new and fun, with no stress, no baggage, nothing that required anything of him... just an eighteen year old girl who hung on his every word and wrote him love notes and put them on his fridge where his wife could see them. So yes, that relationship tore my marriage apart... 

What does that have to do with this post today?

He saw a blog post that, in his mind, called his wife a homewrecker. So he drove to my house, and stood in my kitchen, and defended her honor.

He defended her honor to me.
I tried to emphasize the most ridiculous, hurtful parts of that sentence... "He defended her honor to me." But there was no way to pick it apart. Take from that what you will. I took a lot of things from it. None of them good.

As much as I often wish I had someone to defend me to others, sometimes I need someone to defend me to me...

For all the times and ways God has used me, even recently, despite all my failings, you'd think I'd have more positive things to say... I mean, I know things have to get better. They are going to turn around. I'm going to have something positive to say again soon, I'm sure. Maybe even tomorrow. But I can't see it today.