Saturday, December 29, 2012

Suddenly Bold

Back a few months ago, I did a talk on faith.  While I was preparing for this short little speech, I was so impressed with Peter walking on the waves.  His faith made me reconsider exactly how much (or more like it, how little) faith I possessed.  I loved thinking about it, pondering the emotions (or maybe it was all testosterone, who knows?) that might have completely surrounded Peter.  My emotions that morning were so amazed by the concept of Peter trusting Jesus enough to excitedly do exactly what was asked.  I was blown away by the trust, the hope and the promise that Peter could in fact do exactly what he wanted to do, because he was so intently focused on Jesus.

Matthew 14:22-33 in the Message is what brought this all about, and I really want to share it...

As soon as the meal was finished, he (Jesus) insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people.  With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray.  He stayed there alone, late into the night.  Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves.  At about four o'clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water.  They were scared out of their wits.  "A ghost!" they said, crying in terror.  But Jesus was quick to comfort them.  "Courage, it's me.  Don't be afraid."  Peter, suddenly bold, said, "Master, if it's really you, call me to come to you on the water."  He said, "Come ahead."  Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus.  But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lots his nerve and started to sink.  He cried, "Master, save me!"  Jesus didn't hesitate.  He reached down and grabbed his hand.  Then he said, "Faint-heart, what got into you?"  The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down.  The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, "This is it!  You are God's Son for sure!"

The morning of my talk, the phrase in this passage that spoke so desperately to me was that Peter jumped out of the boat.  No hesitation, no weighing what the options were, no doubting the churning waves under foot, he just jumped out of the boat.  A month or so back, a dear friend mentioned this same passage, but placed emphasis on a completely different phrase.  I was struggling with something I felt God was leading me to do, and terrified that I would be out of His plan for my life.  I wanted to do what He wanted me to do, not think He wanted me to do something because I wanted it.  She reminded me that Peter had to have been terrified, too, because it says Peter was suddenly bold.  She told me that my disobedience needed to become suddenly bold and do what God had asked of me because my disobedience could be hindering someone else's obedience.  Needless to say, I tried to do what was asked.  Tried being the key word, because I chickened out.  I decided I must have misunderstood what God wanted from me.  I hate how remembering back makes me realize I pretty much told God I knew better than Him.  However, I am thankful that I see the lesson I needed to learn. 

Anyway, re-reading it for possibly the hundredth time since then, I am hit by so many thoughts and phrases throughout this passage.  First, this miracle was performed immediately following 5,000 people being fed by five loaves of bread and two fish.  And not several days later, but immediately following.  This part stuns me, because it has left me tonight with hope.  One miracle might be immediately following another.  God's timing is perfect, and He knows exactly what tomorrow holds. 

Secondly, these disciples at first assumed the worst.  These men were the men closest to Jesus, getting to know more than the typical person.  And, they assumed the worst, instead of assuming it was Jesus.  Really, though, how typical it is for us to automatically assume the sky is coming down around us and our world is coming to an end.  Instead of placing their trust in Jesus, they placed humanly fears in the explainable.  Well, as explainable as a ghost is anyway...

Jesus immediately provides them comfort and soothes their fears.  Without fail and without asking, Jesus calls out, reminding them not to be afraid or confused, He was with them. Their boat would not sink, the waves would not send them going in circles, but instead the he was there, he was in control, and they were safe. 

And, then Peter, suddenly bold, asks to walk on the water with Jesus.  First, he had to become suddenly bold.  He didn't just automatically have the nerve, he wasn't overly courageous, but instead suddenly bold.  Trusting, asking and receiving, knowing if Peter asked, Peter would receive.  And, upon being given permission, propels himself without abandon out of the boat.  Seem a little over dramatic?  Uh, yeah, however, how many of us would just throw ourselves over the side of the boat into crashing waves?  Not very many. 

And then, Peter lost his nerve.  Yup.  So like me.  I get direction, start the process, and lose my nerve.  And, just like He did Peter, Jesus rescues me, without question or hesitation every time I ask him to.  And, tonight, I feel like God is asking me, "Faint-heart, what has gotten into you?"  I know what He told me to do, and tonight, instead of doubting my ability,  I jumped in.  Instead of looking at the waves and sinking down, upset and doubting, I am gonna remind those waves exactly who my God is, and know He will have the victory, whatever it may be.  The thoughts have hit whether or not suddenly bold was enough, whether it was Peter's quick feet or his ability to remember who to ask for help that saved him from drowning.  My wind and waves will die down, and His plans for me are still the same. 

As the story plays over and over in my head, I am reminded that the very same trust, hope and faith present in Peter needs to be fed in me, and without circumstances to strengthen my trust, it will grow weak.  I gotta remember who I am walking towards, instead of focusing on the waves crashing underneath me, bringing new hope every day.  If only I could remember to quit looking down, but instead up to the one where the ultimate source of help, direction and healing come from.  That said, I gotta turn this brain off for a night...   

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Miracles

You know, I am sure you know, it is Christmas.  Or almost Christmas.  Or blink four times and sneeze twice and it will be all over and it will no longer be Christmas, but a new year.  I have been in such a funk over it, too.  Not sad or depressed, just not feeling the excitement.  It is so easy to get caught up in the thoughts.  This one wants that, that one wants this, I have no idea about what to do for so-and-so...  Presents have been bought, stockings have been hung, lights are twinkling all over my house, and the girls daily remind me how many sleeps we have left before Santa gets here. 

Christmas lists keep revising, priorities changing, wishes revealed.  Sara and I had an interesting conversation that has left me in a state of complete confusion and complete amazement, that for once, I truly don't have an answer for her, and know Santa isn't coming through with her wish.  It's funny how we teach our children to become mature young people, with the goal of getting them through school and into adulthood without too much drama or failure, all the while almost refusing to allow them to do it on their own.  While it shows she really is growing up (which as an incredible gift, but also sad), it is hard for me to not just write a check, swipe a card or go get that special thing she wants so unselfishly.  This year, she asked for a Daddy who is right for the girls and myself.  Yeah, talk about a lump in my throat that just won't go away.  She gave me her list, and thank God, he was number 2.  I have never been more thankful to be able to provide the first thing, but she said she would gladly give up her toy to have a Daddy in our house, and a good husband for me, too.  Which of course, prompted a second discussion about the differences between a Daddy, a good Daddy, or the Daddy that lives 20 minutes down the road.  Luckily, we have it straightened out some, but every once in a while, I will hear her praying about God giving us someone special.  Gotta admit, as thankful that I am she is looking to the One who will provide abundantly, it tears my heart out.  I want to be able to provide the wishes and longings of my kids.  But, I refuse to step out of God's plan for us to do so.  I am hoping she can see my confidence that God will work this for our good, instead of growing frustrated that His plan isn't happening just yet.  Even more thankful, she understands the difference between bad relationships and good ones, and wants me to find someone new.  There is no anger with her about what could have been.  I am blessed.  Blessed far more than I deserve. 

Jessie asked for something, and I finally purchased it, now she wants a castle.  Yup.  A castle.  And Cassie asked for a pony.  Again.  Third year in a row.  So, we have Prince Charming, a Castle, and the horse to pull the carriage.  Good luck, Santa, I have girls who know what they want, and apparently, it ends a little like Cinderella.  Yeah, and they probably have watched one too many princess movies, so we probably don't need any more of those. 

It is impossible not to feel their enthusiasm, because they are just so innocent and sweet when they tell of an angel coming to Mary, and travelling by donkey and following stars and meeting this precious baby named Jesus.  However, every time they tell me the story, it is impossible for me not to think.  Difficult, dark thoughts of Mary and how terrified she had to have been.  While Jesus was perfect, his earthly parents were human.  So, my mind works something like this...

One: An angel visits an engaged virgin, telling her she was going to have a baby.  Okay, so to be a 14 or 15 year old teenager, and being told you are going to have a baby, and yet, never even understanding what it really takes to make a baby is beyond me.  It is so easy to just sit back and think, she must have been so excited, to be carrying God's son.  But, in my mind??  She was terrified, frantic, doubting her ability, worried about her impending marriage, and wondering what everyone was going to think about how immoral of a person she must be.  For a little while, the pregnancy could be hidden, but eventually, murmuring would begin when she had to go to the market, or when wedding plans were quickly carried out.  The angel's message of Good News had to have felt like complete and total chaos. 

Two: Joseph is a man, no offense, but just a man.  A man who had to have struggled with Mary's news.  I mean, seriously, can you imagine telling your fiance you were pregnant, and oh yeah, God is the father??  Unbelievable.  Talk about doubt, anger, and then debating on whether or not to go through with marrying this woman who claims the impossible.  All that, after she is conveniently out of town visiting with Elisabeth.  Only to be told shortly before the birth that he must marry Mary, because she was in fact, telling the truth?  Can you imagine how horribly he felt?  The guilt, then the overwhelming reality that he had to shoulder the responsibility of being the earthly father to a son who already knew the Heavenly Father on such an intimate level?  Humbling, absolutely humbling.

Three:  And honestly, one of the most uncomfortable things to think about.  This enormously long ride on a donkey.  I am sure, in the middle of this major miracle, Mary had to be thinking, "Are you kidding me???"  Or I would be thinking that.  And complaining.  And whining.  And, at some point, I am pretty sure tears and tantrums might have been included.  Nine months pregnant, balancing precariously on the back of a donkey.  For days.  Not just a ride around the block, or just a few minutes away, but a long journey.  I can honestly say, my human mind would've been seriously doubting the plan God had carried out or even maybe wondering if the angel was really an illusion, a hallucination in the middle of wedding planning stress. 

Four:  The stable.  I know that it seems really cool to think about the Holiest of all, humbling Himself to be born in the lowliest of places, but put yourself in Mary's shoes.  First, no rooms anywhere with a real bed.  Second, contractions may be starting, or at least intermittently happening.  Third, the stench that hits you in the face when you walk into any room where animals are housed.  This is where it really starts to hit me.  A teenage mom, unplanned pregnancy, unplanned "vacation," going into labor in the middle of a barn.  With animals watching.  And a man who has never "known" you that way.  First, there is a part of labor that my mom has had to give me this speech.  Every single one of my girls was born because my mom reminded me I had to keep going, despite the pain and the fear and the incredible desire for the contractions to stop so that I could go home, I had to keep going, and after all, I could do this because I had to do this.  What was Mary going to do without her mom there to keep her focused on the miracle that was taking place?  Did she lay there, smelling animals and all their nastiness, wondering where this miracle was going to happen?  Did she see the manger and dread having to give birth because that was the only place she could lay her little prince? 

Five: The birth.  You know, the Bible tells us that angels were sent to shepherds, wise men were guided by a star.  But, it never mentions angels being with Mary and Joseph.  It never says they were comforted, put at peace, or okay with any of the events taking place.  Do you think they were just so thankful to be a part of this huge miracle, or do you think they were wondering if it was even a miracle at all?  As first time parents, most of us plan and dream and just have this picture perfect plan of how it is going to be.  I am sure when an angel says, "Mary, you are going to have a son, who will be called Jesus.  He is truly the Son of God, and he will be yours," she wasn't thinking about how awesome of a mom she was going to be.  I am sure she was thinking, "Me? I can't do this.  I don't have a big enough house, enough riches or the beauty to be the mother to the Son of God."  No offense to Mary, but as a woman, I am pretty sure every single woman alive would feel those same things.  I am sure Mary didn't plan on getting pregnant before she was married, even more so, getting on a donkey and travelling any distance at all, then, to top it all off, having their reservation lost and having to bed down in a stable somewhere, because only one man out of hundreds took pity on their situation.  We don't tell stories of the angels proclaiming his birth to Mary or Joseph, and it seems as though they were alone.  Giving birth is not a modest act.  In fact, most women who give birth today have intricate birthing plans, with suites, hot tubs and air conditioning for transition.  It isn't something I would willingly do in front of someone who I wasn't legally bound to, to be honest.  I mean, rings and wedding vows sorta bind the man to the woman regardless of what takes place in the birthing room.  But Mary?  She hadn't gotten herself in this position the normal way.  They hadn't adjusted to each other, nor had they become comfortable with their spouse, they way couples do after being married for a little while.  And, here they were, Joseph having to help her in ways that Mary would've probably preferred someone else to do the job.  And, in the midst of all of this, don't you imagine, the miracle might not be so obvious?  The miracle might almost feel like you had done something horribly wrong, and were being punished in a very mortifying, humbling sort of way.

And yet, the miracle was there.  In the midst of the pain, in the midst of the fear, in the midst of it all, the miracle was minutes from being born.  The miracle, the Savior to the world, was only minutes away from being born so that each of us could experience him in ways no one previously had experienced him.  Jesus was born, protected, loved and raised to fulfill this huge miraculous plan.  God knew the obstacles, He knew the chaos, He knew the exact moment Jesus would enter the world, and exactly where this miracle would occur.  It is moments like this that I am blown away by the way God works.  Mary and Joseph were bound to feel a little clueless, frustrated by their circumstance, maybe even angry their plans were cancelled, because God called them to do something different.  Aren't we all the same way?  We all long to be a part of something bigger, but only if we can still remain in control of the how's and the when's. 

We all get up, go to work, eat, pay bills and go on from day to day.  We deal with blown out tires, batteries that won't start, bickering kids, anger at spouses, or longing for someone to eventually marry so we can be angry at our spouses, too.  We walk this life out, wondering when our miracle is going to happen.  We get so lost in looking for this miracle that we fail to see the miracle that is surrounding us on a daily basis.  Yeah, so our plans get a little messed up, our paths are completely crooked and crazy, but God still has this miracle that we, as humans, are completely blind to, because we are not God, nor do we understand how massively huge his plans for us are.  Because we, in our stupidity, think we aren't capable or worthy or enough to be part of a miracle.  And, oh, how wrong we are. 

While we sit and we moan and groan about the why's and why not's and when's and how come's, God is sitting back, probably chuckling, saying, "Hello??  Can you not see the miracles that are surrounding you?"  As I sit here, completely venting at the inability to give Sara and myself something we both would love, I realize, this is an opportunity for at least a miracle or two.  One, a lesson to wait on God, His miracles will always outdo my own.  Two, a lesson on asking, being patient and praying for His strength and courage in every situation.  And three, being thankful for the miracles I am in the middle of and yet am totally unable to see.  Wherever you are tonight, regardless of how great or how low your life is right this second, just remember, you cannot see your paths, but God can.  And I am pretty sure it contains at least a miracle or two. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ups and Downs

Not really sure what about the winter season that makes my emotions so intense. I hate to publicly admit this, but I fear my tear ducts are gonna dry up from overuse. I'm so blessed and so thankful for the gifts I've been given. It leaves me overwhelmed with so many emotions. Happiness at the promise of new things, fresh beginnings, blessings surrounding me and God being first in my life. Sadness that I feel like I have lost so much in the last couple of years. I have alternated between happy and sad tears so often lately, my poor mind doesn't know if I'm coming or going.

I have moved out of my Thanksgiving state of mind and into the next cold season. While I love watching the leaves change color, I hate the dreariness of naked trees, gray skies and early nights. So thankful that twinkling lights are coming out, brightening the darkness for a little while. I'm ready to get in the kitchen and start baking and baking and baking. I have found this absolute love for cooking, this release I get when a meal tastes ten times better than I remember it. I used to sort of enjoy cooking, but I have realized, I am actually g pagood at it and really like it. Thank God, too, cause we gotta eat...

in the midst of tears, I find such incredible joy about what this season represents. I love knowing people are more open to hearing about the birth of our Savior. I mean, seriously, who doesn't like to think about snuggly newborn babies in all their newborn awesomeness? People are in high spirits, getting ready for giving gifts, spreading joy and seeing their families. It is a joyous time of year.

This morning, though, I wish I could just pull the covers over my head, and wake up to springtime. I know in a little bit, this will pass, and I will be excited and ready for this season. My halls are decked, the stockings are hung, and I feel empty. It's crazy, but there are so many unknowns this year. I think uncertainty is stealing my joy, and I have got to take it back. Maybe something warm and smelly will take care of that. And definitely some praise and worship. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Wind and the Waves

I am gonna start by saying I love knowing what I do is important.  I love knowing I do have a purpose in my life, even if it is for a season.  I love seeing kids excited to see me, and more than that, I love hearing 18 kids scream "Jesus!" at the tops of their lungs.  Let me say, seeing their enthusiasm and trust in God never ceases to remind me of how simple loving and trusting him in all things is.  I mean, sure, the biggest worry on their mind is whether or not they will get seconds on veggie straws, or whether their drink will be purple or red, but still.  It is so simple, so easy.

Tonight, I taught a simple lesson on Jesus calming the storm for the disciples.  "Oh ye of little faith'" kept pouring through me.  So much so, I finally had to remind myself I have enough faith, and that when it fails me, grace takes over.  I was teaching the kids that Jesus and his disciples often travelled by boat to get someplace, because their only other source of transportation was donkey or feet.  So, we quickly checked the skies for signs of storms, and boarded our "boat."  We rowed out to the middle of the lake, we were enjoying our journey, and then, the winds picked up.  The clouds rolled over the sun, the sky got dark.  Then, it started to rain.  Yeah, really.  Wind, rain and dark.  In the classroom.  The kids loved it.  And, hearing their giggles and screams and enthusiasm made my entire day.  Anyway, standing their, turning the fan up and down, spritzing them with spray bottles of water, I was reminded of how much God does the same thing.  He watches me board this boat of mine, setting out to do these remarkable things.  Haha, or even not so remarkable, just everyday things, and its like He says, "Ok, Cil, whatcha gonna do with a little wind?  That didn't get you down, so let's try some dark times...  Oh, well, that didn't work, so lets add some waves and lots of rain."  And, the kids?  They laughed.  I wasn't exactly sure what the reaction would be, and honestly, I was a little nervous.  I didn't know if any were scared of the dark, or if they would freak out getting rained on.  But, don't you know that God is sitting up there, doing pretty much the same thing?  No, he doesn't order evil or condemnation in my life.  But, he will see how I can handle certain storms.  The disciples finally found Jesus, sound asleep, in the midst of complete chaos, and felt frustration because of his lack of concern.  The men reprimanded Jesus, King of kings.  Prince of peace.  Can you imagine?  Immediately, Jesus stands up and utters a short command.  Three words.  Three.  No long drawn out command.  Just a simple phrase.  "Peace.  Be still."  And, the winds and waves obeyed the Master and died down.  Astonished at the cowardly behavior of the men, he questions them, " Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?" 

Sometimes, this teacher gets more out of the lesson than her students.  It was so easy to read this story this afternoon, getting so judgemental against the disciples for questioning Jesus about his nap.  I mean, seriously, Jesus wants to nap, my goodness, let the man nap!  The Message version says it like this "Is it nothing to you that we are going to drown?"  And it hit me hard tonight.  How many times have I cried out, "Lord, do you not see this situation?  Do you not care?  I feel abandoned by you, where in this world are you?"  And, my questioning is no different than the disciples concern.  So, telling this story to the kids, I had such a hard time not choking up.  Who are we to question what His intentions are?  Why do we feel like we need to know what He is up to?

Sitting here tonight, I am so in awe of the God I serve.  I mean, this massively awesome Creator knows where every single sparrow is right now.  Why would he not care about me?  For a long time, I turned away from God's unconditional love.  I served him,  I worshipped him, I loved him.  But, I couldn't receive his love within me.  For so many years, I knew how undeserving I was to receive any portion of his love.  How unworthy, how worthless I was as a human being.  These beliefs were so constant in me, I couldn't fathom the God of the universe genuinely loving me.  And then.  I think about it, and I just want to cry out with praise that I finally get it.  I believe it.  And, thank God, I receive it.  Nothing I can do will ever deserve it.  I will never be worthy of it.  But, that is where the faith starts moving in.  His love is here, in me, regardless.  He can say to my waves, crashing around me, "You ridiculous waves, disastrous winds, get out of her way.  She is my daughter, and you are bothering her, impeding her journey.  Just stop." And, that hurricane-like storm will have NO choice but to move.  So, who am I to ask God, "Do you see me down here?"  The simple answer is that He does see me.  And this storm in my sea has the most amazing peace in the midst.  Waves gently lapping at the boat, dolphins jumping out in the horizon, sunset remarkable shades of colors I can't even describe.  It might take some heavy paddling, some scooping up water out of my boat, and waves crashing in around me to get there, but it is so gonna be worth it.  So, when my world seems like I am drowning, all I have to do is say, "Master.  Take my hand.  Hold me up.  With you in my boat, I will not drown." 

I am reminded once again of the amazing verse in Isaiah that says, "Don't be afraid.  I've redeemed you.  I've called your name.  You're mine.  When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.  When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.  When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end - Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior.  I paid a huge price for you, all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!  That's how much you mean to me!  That's how much I love you!  I'd sell of the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you."  On days I am really struggling, I will change this verse just for me.  It has been my life-line on days I really thought the world was caving in on me.  I will read it out loud to my reflection in the mirror like this, "Don't be afraid, Cil, I've redeemed you.  I have called you, Cil, because you are mine.  When you, Cil, are in over your head, I will be there with you.  When you, my precious daughter, are in over your head, I will be there with you.  When you're in rough waters, you, Cil, will not go down.  When you are between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end - because I am God, Cil's personal God, the Holy of Israel, Cil's Savior.  I paid a huge price for you, Cil, all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!  That is how much you, Cil, mean to me.  That is how much I love you, Cil.  I would sell off the whole world just to get you back, trade the entire creation just for you." 

I will just say this.  How can you not face whatever battle you are facing with God confidence when you insert your name instead of mine?  It is impossible.  Speak it to yourself in the mirror.  It works.  When I look out at those waves that were threatening to overturn my boat this afternoon, I almost want to laugh.  Who am I to worry about the waves that God controls?  God has this; He has me, sitting right there in the palm of his hand.  What in this world do I have to fear?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Almost November

Was thinking last night that I felt the urge to write.  It was almost 11pm, and there was no way I was getting out of my warm snuggly spot to get my laptop.  The sudden urge took me by surprise, because obviously, I haven't written in almost a month.  When did September become October, and October run into Halloween time?  If I am not careful, I will blink wrong and Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here.  Where did this month go?

And, seriously, what a month.  The girls and I had an amazing trip away.  I have never felt so blessed and loved in my life.  Just knowing that God had answered my prayer for a short trip away in such a different way blew my mind.  So thankful He hears prayers, even those that aren't necessarily needs.  Funny how something so simple made me realize how much He hears me and loves me in spite of my failings.  In spite of my frustrations, my inabilities, and my weakness.  He loves me.  He hears me.  He blesses me.  And not with millions (haha, or even thousands) of dollars, but in the simplest ways.  Like the sun peaking through fall colored leaves on the green way.  Like laughter of two little girls filling up water bottles with dog food.  Like steam coming out of a cup of pumpkin spice coffee.  Like homemade chicken noodle soup and warm cookies right out of the oven.  Small things, yes, but so thankful.  I am capable of feeling life's greatest blessings without extravagant sources of money.  And, silly as it is, I am so thankful for that.  The silly things we can be thankful for far outweigh the luxuries of a rich person.  Seriously.  :)

Let me just say, the girls and I had the best time.  They experienced jacuzzi baths with more bubbles than I will willingly admit to pouring into the tub.  Jess was almost lost the first time.  Their laughter was such precious therapy for me.  We stayed in a cabin that was secluded enough to make me feel away from civilization, but in all reality, the next cabin was less than 20 feet away; it was less than 10 minutes away from the main stretch.  Kroger was 5 minutes away, three gas stations less than 3 minutes away.  This seclusion was a much needed illusion.  We enjoyed a few sunsets in a porch swing on the wrap-around porch, early morning snuggles in a king-size bed, and checkers by the lit fireplace.  And, yes, I feel like I could write an amazing ad for the cabin.  It was just that perfect.  Well, aside from the jacuzzi tub in the bedroom.  With mirrors.  That was a little more than I bargained for, but the girls thought it was funny that someone could do their makeup while taking a bath.  Thank God for innocence.  We were fortunate to be able to do a few things while we were there, and for that I am so thankful. 

We saw bears.  Real live black (or brown??) bears.  Lots of them.  Sara and I spotted a mama bear and her three babies.  That was both scary and awesome.  God is so awesome.  Watching her protect her babies was really cool.  Made me realize God put my Mommy instincts in me (lol, and every other female creature on the face of the planet) for an important reason.  No other beings create something inside of them.  No other creation gets to have two hearts beating inside of them, nor feel the connection like a Mom gets to.  It was amazing.  No wonder I feel the fierce need to protect these little girls like I do. 

It was so funny, because we went, and I was so ready to get away from life.  And, yet life is exactly what we were doing up there.  We took walks through woods.  We laughed over tree stumps in the middle of the dirt path.  We saw hundreds of squirrels, at least a dozen deer, and more bears than I am really comfortable with, I think 7 was the final count.  Thankfully, we had no snake encounters.  We laughed.  We connected.  And, really, none of us were ready to come home.  Packing the cabin up was a difficult emotional journey.  I felt so safe, so capable, so refreshed knowing this life God gave me is exactly what I want, even if it is hard.

I was telling a close friend of the family a little bit about my past last night.  It is really funny, because it was the first time I ever told it without feeling no anger towards the people that hurt me or turned a blind eye to what was going on.  Yes, I feel frustrated at the legal system, and I feel stupid at being so naive and willing to accept that life could be so painful, but the anger towards my ex is gone.  More than anything, I just feel bad for him.  I hate to think that he will never experience the giggles that come from having four bodies snuggled close in the same tiny bed.  I hate to think that he doesn't get the love, the memories and the experiences having three crazy little girls around him all the time.  Makes me sad, because it didn't have to be this way.  But, remembering hurtful times yesterday caused me no tears, no regret, and no anger for the first time ever.  It feels good to know my past is no longer my present or my future.  My past no longer controls my heart, my decisions or who I can be.  It is simply my past, and thankful doesn't even begin to express how that makes me feel. 
This morning, despite a rough start, I praised God for my past and who it has made me today.  I thanked Him today for my former life, and the closeness to Him I received for enduring it, one painful moment to the next.  And, I sit here, feeling so peaceful and so loved in spite of life's craziness and lack of someone physically present to love me and live life by my side.  While it is hard to wait for that perfect for me someone, I look around me, and know I will not make the mistake of doing marriage my way ever again.  It is so easy to just know God is up there working my next relationship so that it will be God and God alone.  And, the peace I find in not wondering how I can make it happen surpasses it all.  God is so good. 

And, while we are ready for things to progress, the girls are happy, they are adjusting well.  I feel so blessed I can't even explain.  It feels so liberating to know I am doing this.  I had the moment of realizing how much life passed over me in 2011 without me really mentally present because of so many factors, and how much different my life has been this year because I let my grip cling to someone bigger than my current situation.  I let go of what I thought I needed or wanted, and clung to something I viewed as unstable, and have realized that this "unstable" being is the firmest Rock I have ever stood on.  I am so thankful I am where I am.  I am so thankful I walked a rough road, because I can relate to people.  I wasn't so sheltered that I can't understand how someone could stay with someone who hit you or treated you less than you deserved.  I walked this crazy difficult road, and realize now that God never left me.  Things happened for His glory and His glory alone.  Through it all, his plans for my prosperous future unfolded.  And, my story is coming.  I can feel it starting to pour from my fingertips, ready for the freedom in knowing it is all behind me, and today and tomorrow are already taken care of.  I can feel little parts of me unfolding, stretching towards complete freedom.  And, I can't wait to see how God is going to work through me to help others. 

This post was not at all what I started out to write.  It is funny for me to have a purpose for a post, then it end up completely not what I had planned or thought.  Gotta get back to a massive Lego house, now.  Cassie wants a second floor on her cowgirl castle...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Getting Ready...

So, I am sitting in the middle of several piles of clothes, shoes, small things to keep the girls busy, and clothes I still need to fold and put away.  And a room that needs me to finish cleaning it.  And the girls' room that needs ten minutes of my time.  And the luggage that needs to be pulled out.  And yet I can't seem to get over some seemingly small things.

Like gorgeous fall colors.  I am loving watching the reds, oranges and yellows come out.  And sitting here thinking about it gets me all excited, because in 24 hours from right now, I will be experiencing those same intensely beautiful colors in a cabin, secluded with the girls, ready for a small getaway from the craziness that is life. 

Like God's ability to just love me.  Yeah, sorta fall related, cause I feel like He puts on this amazingly beautiful display of colors just for me, just cause He loves me like that.  Conceited, selfish, whatever.  It's probably true for each of us.  He does some pretty awesome stuff, just to show off how much He loves us.  For some of us, it is fall leaves, for others a fish that was this big.  Some find goodness in the quiet stillness of morning's first light, others sitting beneath the stars.  Regardless, He loves us.  He created this beautiful place for us to enjoy.  While I feel silly saying this is proof of how much He loves us, I happen to know God could've created it ugly just as easy as beautiful. 

Like peace.  Such a small simple concept, and yet such a massively powerful feeling.  Even despite not knowing what God's plans are for me, I have this amazing surge of peace, knowing He has called me for greatness.  Single, married, divorced, whatever.  Speaking to women or cuddling with kids, doesn't really matter, He is gonna get the glory.  It's really His story, after all.

Like laughter.  The amazing sounds of laughing women, giggling children, and all of creation just bursting forth with this sound that is just happy.  Like nothing could take the fun happiness out of this moment, and I am going to laugh.  Doesn't matter what tomorrow brings, I am right here in this moment, and it is good, so laugh.  Smile.  Delight in it.  Don't worry needlessly about tomorrow's battle. 

I am starting to seriously feel guilty, because I know in a few hours, I am going to wish that I hadn't sat down and written a few thoughts out.  I know that I am going to feel a little stressed at the thought of four hours trapped in the car with the girls.  I might snap a time or two, or cry, because I am a girl, after all. 

But then...  This moment of serenity is going to come.  Memories are going to be made.  Cabins and woods are going to be explored - cautiously, but explored.  Bubble baths and play-doh time, picnic lunches and blueberry pancakes, enjoying God's masterpiece that is fall.  Knowing the girls and I are safe.  We are loved.  We are forgiven.  And we are each capable of being so much more than these things that hold us where we are right now. 

My heart just feels so full, and while I know a short trip in less than 24 hours is part of it, I also know it is because God has consumed the whole of it.  I want to stand on top of a mountain and just praise Him, because He is just awesome.  And, honestly, I think the girls and I are gonna do just that... 

Not sure whether or not I will post this week or not, but if I do, I do.  If I don't, just know I am soaking up some massive doses of memories, fun, laughter and little girl time.  And relaxing soaks in a hot tub, thank you Jesus.  :)  So thankful for where I am right now, even though it has taken rough experiences to get here.  God definitely knows what He is doing, even if I don't understand it at all. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Armed and Ready

I have this massive urge to just start writing random thoughts and feelings and memories tonight.  And for some reason, none of it is flowing.  I have started several different posts, trying to explain what I am feeling and thinking and learning, and I delete them.  I believe this is the sixth or seventh shot at this.  And, if you are reading something, it means I finally got something worth publishing...  :)

I am working on something I can't wait to get out there.  I thought I would be ready this last weekend.  Turns out, it still needs a little tweaking.  I am good with that.  I have been walking down memory lane a lot lately, rethinking things that could've totally gone differently.  And, I have decided I wouldn't trade a single second of any of it.  I have realized that God sees me for who I really am.  Strong-willed.  Stubborn.  Rebellious at times.  He knew it would take a few hard knocks to get me to see Him.  So, here my life is.  Sorta full of hard knocks.  And yet, amazingly, I have no sense of dread over an uncertain future.  Kinda sorta amazingly awesome stuff right there.

I have been battling some emotional issues with Sara.  I kept hoping it was her age, and not real issues.  I am realizing it is real issues.  While I know that some things in life can just happen, and are not intentionally thought out by Satan to trap or trick me, I am learning he does use anything he can for evil.  Funny thing is, the God I serve is determined to use those same exact things for good.  :)  Sara has been having some issues.  For respect of her possibly reading this ten years down the road, I will not say what I am thinking, but will stick to the facts.  She remembers specific things that she saw when she was too young to be able to put them into words.  As she is getting older and seeing things from a slightly more mature perspective, she is starting to grasp the reasons I couldn't stay in the house with her dad.  It breaks my heart.  I hate to talk about it with her.  Really.  I don't like to talk about things that went down between the two of us.  It really doesn't concern her.  Except that she is remembering things that are making her mad at God.  And, let me just say, attacking my child is a low blow.  Satan better be on guard, cause my Momma bear claws are out.  And totally ready to fight.  And totally ready and more than capable of winning it.  So there. 

Turns out, Sara is mad because she has been praying and knows I have been praying for God's direction regarding some situations in our life.  I know God's got the situation, and is leading us towards the answer.  However, Sara is not quite eight.  She doesn't get it why He is ignoring her, and feels like it has been forever since she started asking.  And she's a little mad.  And, I was too, for a long time.  My heart aches that I refuse to do this my way, because my waiting on God for this seems to be increasing her hurt.  My heart aches that because I refuse to step away from what God wants, this thing goes "ignored" in her life.  I am realizing that Satan is totally attacking her, and in attacking her, it is causing me to wonder the same things.  Worry and discontentment are contagious, wretched feelings.  It is hard to get them under control as an adult, and when I don't have the answer she wants or is hoping for, it makes it harder for her.  We had a heart-to-heart Friday.  We had something that renewed her hope for a short time that turned to struggle Saturday.  And today, she questioned me.  Point blank questioned me.  While I am not going to say exactly what she did, I will give a brief overview.  She wanted to know why it was so important that I do this thing God's way.  Why do I keep believing for something when God hasn't done it for a long time?  Doesn't God love us?  What if His answer is no, or that we weren't good enough for it?  Oh. My. Word.  Why does being a parent have to be so stinking hard?  As a mom, I can sort of see a similar situation.  Sara wants a bowl of ice cream right before dinner.  It will kill her appetite, causing her to not eat enough of the healthy food she needs to grow and develop properly.  So, I tell her to wait.  Except, I am a little busy making dinner, keeping her sisters off of the stove, thinking about work tomorrow, updating my facebook status and doing five thousand other things, and I forget to tell her the "just until after dinner" part.  So, she gets mad.  She thinks I hate her, because come on, if you loved me, you know you would let me enjoy my favorite ice cream right now.  And, it is like Sara, or me even, coming to God with a request.  His answer is to wait for just a little longer, possibly until just after dinner.  Except he knows the hurdles we have to get through first.  He knows the meat and veggies He is providing right now are strengthening us for something bigger and so much better ahead of us. Then, instead of overwhelming us with what we have to accomplish first, he blinds us to the details and just asks us to wait, asking us to trust him with our hearts and lives so that he can get everything worked out for us, for just the right moment.  And, then, when He is ready, dessert will most definitely be served.  On a silver platter, no less. 

As I am writing this, I am almost laughing and crying at the same time.  It is so funny, because in the last three days, I have had three different things happen that have reminded me that God does in fact have this.  This thing is going to be answered for both of us; it is not going ignored.  Faith.  And, for those of you reading who were with me on Sunday morning, I still struggle.  So, I am thinking I am going to take my own advice.  First I gotta get my mind ready and armed for this battle.  Then, I gotta get Sara in the Word of God.  She isn't too young, nor is she incapable of understanding the meaning of faith.  Maybe I gotta preach the message one more time, for her and for me.  And, for those of you that weren't with me on Sunday morning, the message is coming here, too.  Soon.  Just gotta work up some courage and do it.  Faith and worry cannot go hand in hand.  You either trust God to do the things He says He's going to, or you worry that He won't.  And when you worry, you have  your own distorted control over the situation, and He can't do anything about it, except almost beg you to hand it fully to Him.  He will not rip something from your grasp so that He can overpower you to fix it.  He just doesn't work that way.  But, when we can fully get our grimy little hands off of "it" He joyfully works towards a solution. 

And, because these words keep moving and jumping all over the screen, I am leaving this post at that.  I know God is going to give me the strength I need to show her what faith looks like.  Yes, it is going to be hard.  But, I know, without a doubt, in just a short while, I will look back and say, it was totally worth it. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Just Ask

I love fall.  I love the autumn breeze, spreading a fall scent through the air.  I love the cooler weather, the seasons changing.  I love that fall makes me bake.  Pumpkin bread.  Pumpkin muffins.  Pumpkin pies.  Breakfast bread.  Apple pies.  Apple dumplings.  Anticipating Thanksgiving menus, Christmas cookies.  Seriously, my favorite time of year.  I love the colors.  The deep burgundy leaves, crisp yellow ones, gorgeous burnt orange crunching underneath my feet.  Even the overcast gloomy skies today can't get me down.  Summer is over.  Life is moving on, and I can't help but feel joy at that thought.  I am seriously wishing I could capture the smell that is permeating the air in my house right now.  Coffee and warm cinnamon bread, mixed in with two little girls who have done nothing but giggle all morning.  It is days like this that I just want to sit back and do nothing but thank God for the things I have, and what He has brought me out of.  I love the feeling of a completely peaceful heart, knowing that in spite of difficulties or trials, I will not be left alone or forgotten about. 

I was up late last night studying.  Not homework, but the book of James.  I have read this entire book a few times, but never really comprehended what I was reading.  I was raised with the King James Version of the Bible.  Don't stray from it, just study harder to understand it.  By the time I was 16, I had read the entire Bible from cover to cover.  And, sadly, I wasn't a changed person because of it.  I gained no revelation.  Underlined nothing.  Yes, I was 16, but still, nothing?  It was as though the words went in, tried to grab hold, and went right back out.  Maybe this was typical for a teenager, but I seriously doubt it.  As an adult, I have a slightly different view.  I love to pick up my Bible and read it, memorizing little bits that just pull at me.  I love to switch between several versions, memorizing the scriptures that grab my heart.  I do not feel compelled to read the Bible cover to cover again.  But, to read key sections, out of order, in ways that completely blow my mind is what I am doing instead. 

I have been doing this study at church with a group of women on the book of James.  While it hasn't been life changing yet, just reading the first chapter of James several times, in several different versions of the Bible, has really started speaking to me.  My ultimate goal is to memorize the book.  I have yet to start, because it seems a little overwhelming.  As I read more, I realize a lot of the verses I use often are from James.  I have this memory that will remember the basics of a verse, then leave me hanging because I can't remember where to find it.  Or, I can remember where to find it, but for the life of me, can't remember what that verse was about, rendering me helpless to encourage someone with scripture.  This is a source of frustration for me, because there are so many scriptures that have pulled me out of hard times that I know would encourage someone else.  Anyway, I find it funny that over the last few months, I have posted several times about lacking courage to just ask God for stuff.  Knowing the Bible says so much about asking and receiving, but still doubting God could do it for me.  And, yet, the subject has come up again, but this time I am starting to really get it. 

Three weeks ago, I was toying with the idea of something I wanted to do for myself and my girls.  I came across a stash of records, some of which I researched were worth a small, but decent amount of money.  I was excited, because I thought this was the way God was answering my prayer.  Mind you, this was a selfish prayer.  Something I wanted - not needed - to do.  Unnecessary, extravagant, and a total desire.  I prayed about it, listed the stuff on eBay, and waited.  I sold one.  After eBay took their cut, Paypal took their fees, and I shipped the item, I was left with about $1.38.  I set it back, knowing that one day, I would need an ice cream sundae, and I would have the money for it.  I giggled about three hours of work for such a huge amount of money.  I felt slightly silly, but figured it would all be okay.  I tried another method and made $6.50.  At this point, I realized God was telling me no.  And, strangely enough, I was okay with it.  Not even disappointed, because I felt like if He were telling me no, there was a good reason for it.  Yesterday, this silly desire of mine happened.  And, I realized that God will not always answer the way I want. But, if I hadn't asked, how could He have blessed me with this? 

This leads me back to the same spot I have been in.  I have been hesitant to really ask and release my control over this want that I have.  I think I was afraid God's response wouldn't be what I wanted, and that I didn't want to deal with the disappointment.  After really getting into this study, I realize when I hold back, He holds back.  Not as a way of punishing me for not keeping communication open, but because I have to ask before He can answer.  Last night, I crawled into bed, and for the first time in a long time, prayed out loud.  I hate praying out loud, especially laying in the dark, alone in my bed.  I feel silly (ha, and now I really feel silly for admitting that thought in a public place...) for talking when no one is visibly present to listen to me.  Anyway, last night, I prayed out loud.  However, when it came to the part when I told God what this deepest desire really is, I stumbled.  I couldn't seem to bring myself to verbally open up and just ask God for this thing.  I started to, more than once, but in the end, went around the subject.  It was almost like I was ashamed to have this want.  I was ashamed to ask for something specific, as if I should just be thankful for what I do have.  Granted, I was not about to ask for a second anything.  Just one something...  :)  Several times in the middle of the night, Jess woke me up.  Then, I had to try to shut down again and go back to sleep.  And, the most crazy thing kept happening.  I kept asking myself why?  Why is it that my deepest longing is so difficult to utter out loud?  Why do I find myself stumbling, never able to fully lay it down for God to have full control over?  Every time I think about it today, I am thankful that I am seeing my struggle.  I am thankful that I see it as what it is - a hindrance, a stronghold, a barrier.  And, it is coming between me and God, not in a "walking away from God" sort of way, but instead, in a way that is causing me to not grow any further.  And, that isn't what I want.   

So, then, my mind starts setting the scene for my heart.  The humor in me comes out, imagining God behind this massive wrecking ball, ready to come after me, knocking down this barrier that is preventing his love from pouring out over me, granting me the desires I have.  And, it was about then that I realized my concerns, those little issues that I am struggling with in this whole "asking" issue.   

What if God is who He says He is?  What if God is so big and powerful that He actually gives me that desire?  What if it causes me a little bit of hurt or pain?  What if I totally mess it all up?  What, then?  Will it have been worth it?

Last night, part of our homework involved a simple idea.  It asked us to list three different ways we could handle something we are involved in right now.  Let me just tell you, this hit me hard.  I wrote down what I thought I was already doing, realizing I wasn't doing it at all.  I wrote down two other thoughts about how I could do this differently, then realized that my way really sucks.  Really.  The only way I can see this working is if God's hand is over it, blessing it.  And, how can He do that for me when I can't seem to really allow Him control?  How do I trust someone fully with something that I want so badly, knowing He might not answer the way I want Him to?  Or, even crazier, answer in ways I cannot possibly comprehend or imagine right now?

This morning, I woke up 11 different times between 5:45 and 7:00.  How do I know this?  Because that is how many times I hit snooze and fell back asleep.  And, almost every single time that stupid alarm went off, my brain asked me, "But, what if He does?"  This silly thing came after me all night last night, and has been on my mind all morning.  James 1:6-8 is such a vital part of our Christian journey.  It hit me last night that in all of my worrying and wondering, I was really seriously doing myself a horrible thing.  It says,  "But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone.  Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do."  Let me just say, this felt like a punch to my stomach.  I read it again today, and still feel so ashamed of myself. 

You see, I do not see myself as someone with divided loyalty.  I know without a doubt that regardless of my circumstances, I am gonna go to church.  I am gonna serve God however He asks me to.  I refuse to walk away from the One who has done so much for me.  I'm going to lift my hands and worship despite the worries or struggles I face.  But, I am seeing that when I can't ask, trust and believe, God doesn't see me with the same view.  He sees me as being tossed in the wind, an unstable being, torn between His ways and mine.  And, my friends, that is so not where I want to be.  I want Him to know where my loyalty lies, that I know I can trust Him with my heart and my future.  Funny thing is, my mind knows I can.  Without a doubt.  But, my heart just struggles with the fear of more pain, more loss.  And, if I can post about it on a blog, I should seriously have no problems talking to God, who loves me regardless, about it.  Baby steps...  :)

I have a feeling this is only the first of many things that are going to be revealed to me in this study.  I mean, this was only the first 8 verses!  I cannot wait to dig in just a little more.  I have a funny feeling this study is going to be world-shaking, life-changing for me.  So thankful to be a part of it. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Words and Other Such Ponderings...

I have started this post about 12 times, as it is, this current post has been in the edit screen for far longer than I want to admit.  I start it, and about halfway through, I decide it isn't worth the pain of writing it.  I start it, and lose courage, afraid that people will read more into it than is really there.  I start it, and realize someone will think I am writing this about them, and then erase it, not wanting to cause someone I love pain, especially when it isn't intended towards them.  I begin to write, and then realize my words may cause anger or remorse, and don't want anyone to feel shame over their actions or past.  But, here lies the truth.  Words hurt.  Words hurt when left unsaid.  Words hurt when spoken.  Words have such intense power.  Words hold the power to communicate effectively.  Words have the power to completely destroy someone.  I recently read this passage of scripture and was immediately convicted: "It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire.  A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that.  By our speech, we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.  This is scary.  You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue - it's never been done.  The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer.  With our tongues, we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image.  Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!  My friends, this can't go on.  A spring doesn't gush fresh water one day and brackish water the next, does it?  Apple trees don't bear strawberries, do they?  Raspberry bushes don't bear apples, do they?  You're not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?" ~ James 3:5-12 (The Message)

Let me just say, I read this at least four times before I felt even close to understanding what it was telling me.  "Speak wisely, friend.  Watch your tongue more closely than any other thing you ever do."  It is so freeing to be so convicted and feel so incredibly forgiven at the same time.  My brain immediately went into action, thinking, justifying, processing.  It is something I forget, and I should be the last person on the face of this planet to forget the power of the tongue.  And, in this delightful age of technology, this means our fingers, too.  I am so incredibly guilty of having an emotion and posting it immediately on facebook.  I get frustrated or hurt or confused, and pour my heart out to whoever might be on the other side of this screen reading.  It is so easy to speak our minds in these days, making it even easier to cause irreparable damage to more people than I could ever imagine.  I am going to say one more time, this post is NOT in regard to anyone that is reading it, but mainly the person writing it.  It is just something I have felt compelled to write for months (really, since May or June!).  It is part of my testimony, and is so vitally important not only to me, but each person that makes up the body of Christ.  We are all working towards the same common goal, yet so easily want to get upset about the actions of another. 

For many many years, I was built up by one person's words, then completely destroyed by them in the same exact sentence.  When I was a teenager, I was a very confident person, though I was being raised in a church environment that didn't focus on a woman's confidence, putting me in a weird place.  Not a bash, just an observation.  As any other girl at 16 years old, I was ready for the fun of a boyfriend, dating and the like.  Unfortunately, I was a very sheltered 16-year-old.  I didn't understand that one's words could seem so amazing and yet be full of lies.  I was swept off my feet, allowing myself to feel love and trust someone completely.  I was naive.  I will admit that.  In many situations now, I find myself falling back into that same naivety.  I want to believe the words people say, trust that they mean them, and know that they aren't being said to hurt me.  This was the way I was raised.  We spoke kindly to each other, even when we fought, I don't remember name-calling.  Unless you call mustard-head an insult... 

Anyway, over the period of the next ten years, I trusted the hurtful words of someone I loved as the truth and tried to view it as constructive criticism.  I would take the words to heart, and work desperately to change myself to make their words less harsh towards me.  After a while, I began to just know these negative words as truth, and believe them without any thought that they weren't accurate.  I would accidentally drop something, causing it to shatter.  I would think to myself that I was incapable of doing anything without ruining something else.  I was told I was worthless, easily replaceable.  I believed it.  One person's words ignited my entire body, causing me to be consumed by this fire of self-doubt and hatred towards myself that eventually caused me to forget who I truly was.  Most do not and will not understand how or why I believed this nonsense.  Let me just say, looking back, I don't understand it either. 

Over the last two years, I have had such an intense roller coaster ride.  I had to fight to take my thoughts captive and remember I am not worthless, but a priceless treasure.  Those words were just the lit match that was meant for harm.  But, using hindsight now, I see that God is using my entire past for good.  I can look back and see the damage words, thoughtless and intentional, can cause.  And, then, I can look to the last 18-24 months of my life and see how the very same thing, words, were used to lift me up, causing those ashes to be turned into a beautiful testimony of God's healing and grace.  I experienced a circumstance this week where someone jokingly told me how worthless or useless (I can't remember the exact word used) I was.  The comment was a joke.  I know it, as did everyone around me.  It took me all night long to overcome the words.  I am not angry about them now, but instead, I am thankful.  Those words could have easily caused me to catapult backwards, into doubt, self-hatred, and complete belief that they were true.  And, for one afternoon they did.  Then, I remembered God doesn't make junk.  God has plans for me that only I can fulfill.  Plans no one can take away from me and do instead.  That makes me instead, a rare find, and so valuable a price cannot be determined.  I am not the same person I used to be.  And, God is the only one that could have caused that, making me so thankful that I have learned to depend on him to define who I am, instead of those around me.  His are the only thoughts toward me that are really important, and His thoughts towards me are as countless as the sand, so should I even care about that one time when so and so said...?  Yeah, I am thinking not. 

I am going to wrap up, but I really feel the urge to remind each of us.  Be mindful of the words coming out of your mouth.  Very rarely do we know every single detail of the lives around us.  Very rarely do we know if our silly joke will tear them down.  Guard your tongues.  They cannot be and will not be tamed.  Only one muscle in our body has the capability to ruin someone with one single breath.  Instead, use your mouths for encouragement, forgiveness, love, so that you can one day look back and see people you have built up for God's glory.  You never know your kind words will mean to a person. 
As cheesy as this may sound, your very words may bring them out of a darkness so deep they can't see any light.  Or, your words may plunge them into such horrible places, they begin to think they have no hope.  Be careful.  I have had two types of experiences in my life.  And let me just say this, the experiences that haunt me now aren't the ones that left bruises.  They are the ones that continue to echo through my brain, because a person's words have the ability to stick around a long time after they've been said.  Proverbs 21:23 (The Message) says it like this, "Watch your words and hold your tongue;  you'll save yourself a lot of grief."  I really want to add to that, you will save everyone around you a lot of grief, too.  Romans 14:19 encourages us with "So let's agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other.  Help others with encouraging words; don't drag them down by finding fault...." 

I am so incredibly guilty of saying the first thing that comes to mind.  I need to remember my own experiences and how words have had power in my life.  When you get the opportunity, lift someone up.  You never know what they are walking through.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Gratitude.  Appreciation.  Thanks.  Indebtedness.  Recognition.   None of it seems to sum up what I am feeling right now.  I have this feeling like I just jumped out of an airplane.  Or climbed to the top of Mt. Everest.  Or ran a marathon.  Or was given a million dollars.  The list could go on...

Over the last several weeks, I have had a lot of reasons for introspection.  I have passed some milestones, and have been working on some perfectly timed projects.  I have been looking backwards over my past, and how it has led to my present.  I have really fought with decisions, promises and failures.  Not at all wishing I could re-do my past, but just paying close attention to things that have brought me to this particular place. 

I have been working on something for a little while, and have been struggling with the topic.  Not going to go into a lot of detail here right now, but within another week or so, I will share.  Anyway, I was doubting my potential and the ways that God has changed and used me.  Then, this morning, I received a phone call that was so sudden, so unexpected, that I just am sitting here, in complete disbelief.  I get so blown away sometimes.  And, it has really made me think. 

I am being recognized for outstanding academic achievement at school.  One beautiful day almost four years ago, I made a huge decision.  I had been given a mission, and I was so uncertain that God was really telling me to do it.  Step out of my comfort zone, walk into the unknown, and just do it.  I enrolled in school, in the middle of a really bad situation.  I remember thinking to myself that I had lost my mind.  You see, I was battling so many outside influences.  I was praying for miracles in my marriage, struggling with two kids pretty much on my own, and trying not to watch everything I loved and worked for go down the drain.  So, you can imagine my confusion when God pushed me to go back to school.  I went with the understanding I would complete a course and drop out.  That was my bargain with God.  I would do the work, but not put extra time or effort into it.  If I passed with a decent grade, I would continue.  When I realized I didn't have time, or the grade wasn't to my satisfaction, I knew I would quit.  I passed that first class with a 99.8.  Apparently, failure wasn't an option.

Within 3 months of my enrollment, my marriage took an intense spiral downward.  Within another 2-3 months, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant, causing major doubt's of God's plans within me.  Within a year of that, things had gotten enormously worse.  My years of school have seen me struggle with a massively colicky child, the pregnancy and birth of a third child, watching a loved one spiral down into the pits of alcoholism, a rocky divorce, and recovery and healing from abuse and all the things that come with it.  So, you see, when I look back at my years of school, I cannot even begin to explain how I have a 3.98 GPA.  It isn't something my human brain can even begin to explain.  I literally do not understand.  For the first time in a long time, I am proud of a decision I made, and the success that is coming from it.  I am so thankful, that even in the midst of turmoil, God's voice was heard and obeyed.  Would it have been easier to ignore the prompting?  Absolutely.  Would I be where I am today?  Absolutely not.  I am finally beginning to understand the way God works.  He will give me the steps for today, without revealing the overwhelming magnitude of where those steps will lead over time.  Because, if I had known that I would endure pregnancy, alcoholism, divorce, single parenting, sleep deprivation, and recovery while still in school, I never would have obeyed. 

I can't help but think about those nights, when I wanted to sleep more than anything else.  When I just wanted my world to stop spinning around me, unsure of how to get through the day, then adding assignments that were overwhelming and due that night.  I think about those times when I knew it would be easier to walk away than to walk this thing through.  I think about those countless nights complaining about a horrible assignment or a difficult professor, or just the fact that I was tired of continuing on.  And, most often, I think about every single person, sitting in the background, cheering me on, silently or publicly.  I know people have said prayers for me.  I know they have encouraged me, reminded me that I am doing something with this life.  Lifting me up, carrying me through this.  Speaking kindness and courage to me.  Reminding me that I can do this, and will do this.  I think about this unseen person giving me strength and courage and grace to get through this, and do so in such a way that no one could doubt it was God who was with me. 

After a miserable professor/class last month, I began to seriously doubt the ability to finish school at all, even more, maintain the grades I have worked so hard for.  I called a friend, as close to a panic attack as I have been in a long time.  I didn't share this with them at the time, but I have never been so close to giving up and walking away in my life.  And, to hear the words, "Give up.  Throw away all your work, all the grant money, all the scholarship money."  I remember the conversation continuing, reminding me of how hard I had worked, how amazing my grades were, but that it would be okay to throw it all away.  I have such a love/hate relationship with sarcasm, reverse psychology, however you want to put it.  The words hurt.  But not in the ways like a burn or a broken arm, more like in the ways a rosebush is cut back to its core to produce more blooms and strength.  Obviously, I continued on.  The strong-willed attitude within me rose up again.  I didn't throw in the towel, I gave it all I had.  And got the highest grade in the class.  Those words have echoed in my mind every single struggle with school since.  I have worked way too hard to walk away now.  I hope the person that helped me through that night is reading, and can understand those words were exactly what I needed.  I would've given up if not for them.  While they didn't feel like God at the time, I am fairly confident God used this person for the positive effects those words would have on me now. 

So, today, when my school called, the woman on the other end said, "You are an academically outstanding student.  Our files show you are a single parent, and that you have a 3.98 GPA.  You are in the top 15 of your graduating class, and have been almost your entire academic season.  Keep it up and congratulations!"  And, I sit back, in awe of the most amazing journey and the most amazing friends.  I know at some point, I am going to look back at this journey and say, "Wow, there is no way I would've ever achieved any of this in my own strength.  God has been here the whole time."  I already see it, and seriously cannot wait to see what else is coming.   

So, those days when you have seen me, happy, down, struggling, succeeding, whatever, and lifted me up, I want to thank each of you from the bottom of my heart.  Those days you have made a point to encourage me, I needed it.  I never would have thought at the beginning of this that I would come out of it where I am now.  And, then to look forward to graduation, I can't wait to see where I am then.  Walking across that stage is easily within reach now.  I just have to keep my chin up and keep moving.  Never could I have imagined the plans God had (and continues to have) for my life. 

Friday, September 21, 2012


Have you ever watched one of those TV sitcoms where the husband asks the wife, "Honey, what's wrong?" And she replies, "Nothing. I'm fine." Except that she isn't fine, doesn't feel like talking about it, and is trying to pretend if the facts are ignored long enough, they will just go away? 

Yeah, that is pretty much the way I feel.  Minus the conversation.  Haha, and the husband.  Okay, and the TV show.  Whew.  That leaves me with just nothing.  And, well, we all know that a woman says nothing, nothing isn't entirely accurate.  :)

And, now that I am totally confused and laughing, I don't feel much like writing.  Hoping to be able to force myself out of this state of mind soon, and share what is on my heart and going through my head.  For tonight, though, I'm just gonna keep pretending it's all good... 

Friday, September 14, 2012


Focus: a central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity; to concentrate.

I can't focus.  I have this blip of thought, and it races to the next thing, which quickly goes somewhere else.  I try to adjust my thoughts to get one thing taken care of, and instead, my focus just goes back to one of several things.  Or on to something new.  Or something I forgot about.  Or that Starbucks has their Pumpkin stuff in.  Or that I forgot to go here or there.  Or switch loads.  Again. 

Because of the craziness and chaos I feel right now, I took a break from facebook.  I took a break from choosing to allow others to tell me why or how or whatever on what I feel or how I am doing.  You can tell me that I am doing great.  Or, you can tell me that I am failing horribly.  At this point, they all feel pretty much the same.  It is so easy for people to give their opinions and thoughts, and I am so incredibly guilty of doing the same thing, without really knowing the who's or what's or why's.  But, all of this has left my focus so out of focus I can't even see straight.  And, if I were going to be totally honest, that is only the tip of the iceberg, if facebook were an iceberg.  I miss it.  And, yet, I don't.  I don't want my thoughts or opinions to cause others pain.  And, when I am in pain, I don't want someone else's prying cause me pain.  And, most importantly, I really have got to figure out my facebook settings.  No more friends who really aren't friends, especially the secret kind that I didn't even know were there.  Ok, really, enough of that... 

It has been a whirlwind of a week.  I am so so so thankful it is Friday (and yet, it really should be Thursday, because I totally forgot about school yesterday, so homework is still looming over me).  And yet, I am sad that it is the weekend.  I feel like such a failure as a mom this week.  To be totally honest, I feel like a failure as a mom, as a person, as a friend, as everything.  Failure is looming in front of me, beckoning me to just quit fighting and give in.  It dances all around me, taunting, teasing, reminding me of my inabilities.  And, it really makes me really, really, really, really mad.  I want to stick my tongue out at failure and shout that failure can, well, I better not say that.  :)

I look around me and am in this state of being overwhelmed.  I want to share my thoughts, and yet, I feel like I can't.  I hate this, because I don't even know how to work through emotion I have never experienced.  And, I really know none of this is making sense.  I am rambling, can't even stay focused with writing. 

I was straightening up last week or the week before, or maybe even, well, I don't know when it was.  That really isn't the point.  I came across one of the leftover name tags from my connect group.  This particular name tag was attached to a card, with a message inside.  I had forgotten about it and had set it aside, but it held something inside that I needed this week.  I wish I had carried it with me, because in every single moment of failure, weakness and wishing I had the courage to give up I should have looked at it.  I was created to do great things, not fail.  I was created for a specific purpose, having to walk through only the experiences God knew would enable me to do those great things.  I will not drown, I will not be defeated.  I just have to keep walking, and less looking back.

Several weeks ago, I was really frustrated with my lack of courage regarding so many circumstances.  And, it made me realize how my past is my past, but it is still leaking into my future.  I do not want my feelings or emotions used against me, so I don't speak up.  And, right now, I am kicking myself.  I do not want my past to become who I am.  I want to be that person that you look at and say, "Wow.  God is so in charge of her life.  Look at where she was and where she is now.  No fears of the future, no scars, no baggage."  You know, that whole Proverbs 31 woman?  I want to be that.  I want a husband that can trust me, that I can bring value to.  I want to be wise and strong.  I believe it is 31:25 that talks about being clothed in strength and dignity, and laughing without fear of the future.  That is what I am talking about.  I want to feel so safe and secure, I want to trust God so much that I can laugh, without fear of what is around the corner.  I want to just know.  And, in my head, that woman knows how to confront fear of rejection and say, "Move outta my way.  I got something to do, and you are not slowing me down."

And, right now, even single, I am just not cutting it.  I lay in bed at night reminding myself that if I can't get it together alone, I will never survive another relationship.  I love my girls.  I love them tremendously.   I feel so thankful that they love me, and feel so safe and stable they share so much with me.  Their thoughts are so random, sometimes causing me to laugh to the point of tears.  This week, I experienced the opposite.  Sara made a comment to me that has gone through my head about a million times.  It was the perfect way to start my week.  Not.  I know in her mind, I am a safe outlet to vent to.  And, really, I want her to know she can say anything to me and still be loved by me.  But, I left a bad situation, because I was no longer a person.  My thoughts, opinions, wants, and feelings weren't allowed to exist without repercussions.  I was an object.  Someone to clean, cook, and keep the kids quiet.  I paid what bills could be paid, and shut up when I had nothing left.  I did not exist until something wasn't done, or something more was needed.I did my best to be frugal, and thought I did the whole "wife" thing well.  It turns out, I am the only person thinking that.  And, while I am totally okay with that, I am not okay with my 7-year-old reminding me of my inadequacies because she feels safe to speak her mind.  And, unfortunately, the things weighing on her mind right now are difficult for me to deal with.  Things my own insecurities keep pouring over me, that I really don't need her reminding me, too.  My heart wants to write it all out, process it, get the thoughts of those I love.  And yet, my mind tells me to shut it all in, because I am afraid she will be right.  I know God has it figured out.  He promised me something I am clinging to right now.  However, I am finding it more difficult to wonder if I heard him wrong. 

I experienced a phone call this morning in the middle of a near meltdown.  Let me clarify, a momma meltdown, not a child meltdown.  I thought this whole thing was almost hysterically funny, given the fact that I had been praying that God show me how to have more faith.  The phone call regarded me speaking about faith.  Yeah, I have taken a few leaps of faith.  And, I have never fallen.  I have never been fatally wounded.  And, I can laugh and experience joy and happiness.  God's got my back.  However, I will admit, His sense of humor is almost unbearable.  He's got this.  And, because of that, I know that really, I do too. 

I have been really running quite a bit lately.  Stress makes me feel crazy, the running helps more than anyone could ever understand.  Lately, during my runs, it is so hard for me to think about anything but life around me.  I have been pushing the girls while I run, and hearing their early morning giggles makes my heart overflow with gratitude.  It didn't have to be this way.  It could have been so much different.  As the days go by, more and more leaves crunch under my feet.  While I do not like cold weather, I love fall.  I love the colors, smells, and family gatherings that come with it.  As I have been running, I just feel so close to God.  Like he is running right there next to me, reminding me if I can keep on when it hurts, I can keep walking this out.  Gently pushing me forward when 105 pounds of girls and strollers makes me want to turn around.  Taking my hand, not leaving me, but strengthening me, both physically and spiritually.  It makes me want to just keep going.  Like Forrest Gump.  Like seriously, just not stop. God is so consuming when I am out there.  I don't understand what I am doing wrong, that I can't feel Him like that anywhere else.  I long for the closeness I feel there to follow me home.  Yes, there are moments, but it just isn't the same.  It's like I want to be outside, walking, running, biking whatever, just so that I can get away from life and take a few minutes to enjoy this huge masterpiece God created for us to live in. 

I know I am still not focusing well on one subject or another.  It all still feels jumbled and crazy.  Maybe that is just part of this path I am walking.  Progress has been made, though.  I don't miss my past.  I don't want a single part of it back.  The good times or the bad.  I want the good to stay good, and the bad to just leave me with the lessons they taught me, so I can keep looking forward, focused on where I am heading, not where I have left. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Year...

A year ago about now, I received a phone call that made me do a happy dance, then made me sob.  Today, a year ago, a judge declared me a single, unmarried woman.  At the time then, I was so thankful the divorce stuff was finally over and I could really start getting into a rhythm.  It's so funny, because a year ago, I would have thought I would've been miserable still now.  While I do get frustrated, I am not miserable. 

Last night, as I was laying in bed, I was thinking about what was on my list of stuff to do today, knowing full well that I might be emotional, or sad or something.  I decided I would do whatever made the girls and I happy and just wing it.  So, after a much easier morning, I decided to run.  Run long, run hard, run fast.  And then...  It was like someone somewhere was telling me I wasn't allowed to run.  First, the stroller had a spider living in it.  Not a big deal, but yuck.  It took a few extra minutes to clean out the web.  And, I've used it recently.  We drop Sara off at school, and head out.  Second, the girls wanted nothing to do with running.  They wanted to go home.  They didn't like their shoes.  I forgot their chocolate milk.  One pack of fruit snacks between two sisters, and neither was happy. 

I never experience this much sadness at the start of a run. I usually have two little girls cheering for me to run fast. I told myself to run a 1/4 mile and see what they would do.  I ran a killer mile and a half.  The first mile was less than 10 minutes, I was at the turn around point in about 5-6 minutes after that.  When I started to turn around, they both complained!  They weren't ready to head back to the car, and honestly, neither was I.  As I was running, I felt such peace and freedom.  I could hear the birds singing, the leaves crunching underneath my feet, and the girls giggling about the squirrels that kept darting out in front of me.  It was cool (notice the sweatshirts??) and seriously felt like fall.  The colors and just beauty out there today just blew me away.  I ran to the top of the greenway (I do think that monster hill is definitely worse than the first monster hill, too!) and then the girls put their hands up all the way down the hill.  They thought it was a rollercoaster.  It was fun.  They were laughing.  We finished 3.9 miles in 46 minutes.  And, I was pleased with that.  Those kiddos are heavy!  :)

I let the girls out of the stroller while I stretched.  They love to climb the tree that is at the trailhead.  I was just getting ready to pack it all up when a couple stopped me.  The woman had a funny look on her face, and I knew I was gonna get chewed out for letting them in the tree.  I could just feel it.  And, ever so thankful when it didn't happen.  The man chuckled and told me if he had to run pushing a stroller, he wouldn't run.  He told me they had seen me running with the girls several times, and were always so motivated by me.  They didn't understand how I did it, either.  It made me feel so good.  I motivated someone.  And, all I was doing was running. 
 We came home, cleaned up, ran some errands, and came home again.  The girls are happily playing, and I am left alone with my thoughts.  And, the same memories of this girl, scared, hopeless and on the verge of a serious breakdown hit me hard.  When I finally decided it was time to file papers and get a move on the process, I knew it would be hard.  I knew I was going to have to do things I didn't want to, and I really hated it.  I didn't realize how hard it was going to be.  The process took every ounce of joy from me. 

A year ago right now, I rarely got out of my pajamas, unless I had to go to work or church.  Yeah, it might sound nice, but really, it wasn't.  I never slept.  And, I seriously mean never.  If I got 3-4 hours a night total, I would have been happy.  I was miserable, I hated being alone, I hated the fighting, the anger, the constant flow of tears.  I was so angry that God hadn't done what I thought he promised for me.  Words don't do my state of mind then justice.  I honestly don't even know how I survived.  It was a battle I would wish on no one.  I was terrified of men, doesn't matter who he was, I didn't like him and would seriously avoid any talking to them at all.  To put it nicely, I could probably say I hated the entire gender.  And, back when I was praying for this miracle of healing and restoration, I never even thought the healing and restoration would take place in me, instead of my marriage. 

Even though the last week has been one of the hardest I have had in a while, I am so much better than I was.  Someone told me it would take a year for me to really feel good about life again.  I remember that comment feeling so defeating.  I didn't feel strong or empowered, it made me feel weak.  I sit here this afternoon thinking about some pretty amazing things.  First, I have friends who love me and accept me for who I am, and know most of what I have been through.  No judgement, just friendship.  They lifted me up when I couldn't go any farther.  Second, I am learning men aren't something to be hated or feared.  There are a lot of good guys out there.  I am learning to be aware, but not fearful.  And, I am thankful that I am learning accepting help isn't a weakness.  It is hard and humbling, but sometimes, it is okay. 

I am just totally blown away when I think about it for too long.  More than anything, I am really thankful that I have had the experience.  Without it, I wouldn't be in the place I am now, my relationship with God wouldn't be anything like it is right now, and I am figuring out who I really am and what I can accomplish.  I have learned so much about myself, my life, the kids and a lot about a person's real character.  It's not been an easy year, but it has definitely been a positively life-changing one! 

I really want to thank those of you who have helped me this year.  I know I didn't allow many in, but if you were there for me in any way, I can't thank you enough.  I am not where I want to be, but I have a great start.  Not really sure what is coming my way, but I am really excited and ready to move forward.  God is so so good! 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


I wish I felt the freedom to write what was going on in my head and in my heart fully, without consequence.  I don't, and that is probably a great thing.  I am overwhelmed with drama, emotion and honestly, I am a little over it.  I have enough stress and complications right now I don't feel like I can add any more. 

I have been struggling immensely with some trust issues.  In my life, I have experienced enough let down to not fully trust people.  Not a big deal, and there are a few I do trust completely, but it is an issue.  I am aware.  It is on my "to change" list.  I do know it isn't going to be in my strength, either.  It is easier to not trust and expect those around me to disappoint, than to realize I can trust and depend on someone other than me, and every once in a while end up disappointed, instead of every time. 

I was not so gently reminded of something this morning, by one of my girls.  This painful reminder rocked my world, hurt me to my core, and sucked air out of my lungs.  Literally.  It would have been easier to have been punched in the face or stabbed through my chest.  I do know two things: 1) the words were not true, even if they look like it in the present moment and 2) her words were not her own.  I am not sure if she was repeating something she heard, or making an excuse for why she said it.  If you are reading this and feel the need, please pray for this daughter of mine.  I wish I could protect her from the pain she is feeling, and the reasons behind lashing the pain out at me. 

I do not want to bash.  I do not want to criticize or put down.  I do not want to hold resentment in my heart or in my mind.  So, I won't.  I do not understand, and have found myself praying several times for understanding and wisdom.  In a moment of complete weakness last night, I asked for help. 

While what I received was exactly what I needed, it was a difficult pill to swallow.  I know no one knows my inner thoughts except me, but it was eerily the same thing I had been thinking.  Parts of me wish I could undo the asking, while other parts of me are thankful I asked, because the whole thing has really been on my mind today.  Proverbs 3:5-6 is what was recommended to me, and grabbing the first Bible (my bright pink Message, what else? ) I saw, I opened it up.  It read, "Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own.  Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track.  Don't assume that you know it all.  Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best.  Your barns will burst; your wine vats will brim over.  But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under his loving correction.  It's the child he loves that God corrects; a father's delight is behind all this." 

I am just going to quickly run down how this played in my stubborn, strong-willed head.  No anger or resentment as of this moment, but it took a few hours before I could accept what I needed to accept.  You see, I saw this pin on pinterest that said, "The truth will set you free... but first it will tick you off."  Well, actually, it said something slightly different.  But, I really am not cool with repeating that in a public place.  Anyway, it is totally me.  I have no problem accepting truth, except the part where I accept it without problems or anger or tears.  And, last night, there was pretty much all three happening in my quiet spot.  :)  The words were so what I needed.  First, I am having great enormous difficulties because I feel like God has shown me a few things, and yet, a little over two years later, I feel like none of it has happened.  I know in a few years I will look back and see the baby steps on the path to getting where I am going, but it is hard to maintain this belief and hope when you feel like you are getting no results.  Yeah, I know, that is probably the definition of trust.  (Actually, the definition of trust is the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc. of a person or thing; confidence.)  Second, I have several issues going on with the girls, myself and a few other things, and I just want to figure out the answers.  To everything.  Right now.  But, I am learning, me figuring out the answers does not equal me being dependent on God for direction.  It isn't both.  It is one or the other.  Be dependent on God or rely solely on Cil.  And, when put that way, this whole post seems silly.  :)  While I am aware of where I feel God is leading me and what he is telling me to do, I have found myself trying to hide my thoughts and wants from him.  I don't know why, but it is like I am afraid to fully ask and believe that God can do this.  I am so afraid of being disappointed or hurt later that I just don't want to risk it.  I know this is not what God wants of me, but it is where I am.  I want to run, all the time.  Run away from these things that I feel like are attacking all the time, run from the burdens of mommy-hood, run until I literally can't run anymore.  It is a really good thing my longest run without stopping for a walk is 3.1 miles.  I wouldn't get far enough away to do myself any good.  So, I stay.  I smile.  I pretend like I have it all together.  And, I just totally revealed my secret.  Don't judge.  It isn't nice....

Anyway, in the midst of the breath-sucking impact of this verse, I started to get a little angry.  I know this is really just the way I process life.  I hear something good for me, it upsets me, I talk/write/pray it out, and it changes a little part of me.  It is good.  But, at the same time, I wish it were different.  I wish I could just wholeheartedly accept the truth, without it making me mad or hurt first.  I am not sure I will ever get there.  However, I was so gently reminded not to resent God's discipline.  Such sweet, soft words.  God loves me enough to remind me I have to let go of my fear and worry and just trust him.  He can't work the miracles when I won't let go. 

Now that I feel totally vulnerable and emotional, I am calling it a night.  This is all a process.  I get that.  I am honestly thankful for that.  When I think back to the person I was last year, I am amazed.  And, that post really is coming...  :)