Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I am...

I need encouragement in a bad way tonight.  My typical reaction to discomfort or frustration is to isolate and retreat.  I refuse to allow those habits to destroy me tonight.  So, this post really isn't intended for anyone else but me to read, but what do you know?  I posted it anyway.  :)  I guess I just need the easily accessible reminder that this part of my life is a season, feelings will come and go, but God's promises will remain true forever.  Bedtime woes have become a battle too many nights in a row and I am feeling defeated.  Instead of focusing on the way I feel tonight, I really want to sit back and focus on what I am instead.  I know the feelings of defeat, weariness, frustration and failure are just that - feelings.  They are not life bearing.  They are death, and luckily, I know they are not true.  At some point, if I say it and write it enough, it will get through my thick skull and I will believe it.  Tonight, I am determined to believe it and walk it.  Not just think it through, but really accept myself for the person God sees me to be.  Here goes...

I am loved.  This one is so easy to prove, not so easy to believe.  So many places show of God's amazing love for us.  Deuteronomy 23:5 states how God can turn a curse into a blessing, because of His love for us.  1 Chronicles 16:34 shows that His love is faithful and endures not just for today and tomorrow, but for eternity.  Psalm 118 tries to beat his love into our brains, stating repeatedly God's love for us never quits.  So, when the Bible says it over and over and over and over (need I really go on?) that God is love, His love is forever, His love will never quit, we can do nothing to stop God from loving us, why do we struggle so deeply to accept that love?  In my personal walk, my past experiences keep me from really understanding it, and for me, understanding something is necessary before I can really believe it.  So, my past experiences have become strongholds.  First, my earthly father hasn't expressed his love for me in a seriously long time.  I miss it.  I struggle with my heavenly father's love because I do not understand what it is like to know the ways a biological father loves his children.  I do not understand what makes some Dads really come in and love their kids, while others seem as though they couldn't care less about them.  And, honestly, it frustrates me.  Secondly, people hurt you.  Man or woman, it doesn't really matter.  Truth of the matter is, those we love are bound to cause us some form of pain at some point or another.  So, to try and comprehend how much God really cares and loves us is impossible.  We have nothing to compare it to.  But, that is the truly amazing part.  While on earth, we have nothing to compare God's love to.  We can say we understand his love when we become parents.  To some extent, this is true.  But the Bible (Message) clearly says, "You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?"  But really, we have nothing to compare the amazingly, incredible way God really loves each of us.  So instead of thinking about it, just accept it.  Don't try to understand it.  Just accept it and be thankful.  This for me is a daily fight.  It isn't always easy.  I know God sees me for who I am.  His word says He loves me in spite of who I am, so I just need to accept it and allow him to use it for His glory. 

I am strong.  I love reading out of the Message version.  Just when I think I can't possibly feel any weaker, I am reminded of something so vitally important to my well-being: "Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become (2 Corinthians 12:8)"  I was given part of this verse a few weeks ago.  Weakness is such an interesting word.  Weak is defined as not strong; liable to yield, break, or collapse under pressure or strain; fragile; frail (www.dictionary.com).  So, to put this correctly, when I am not strong, Christ's strength comes through.  When I am liable to yield and collapse, His strength is what I need.  When I am fragile, frail, getting ready to break into a thousand tiny pieces, his strong hands will be there, to hold me together.  It is when I am empty that He can come in and fill me up. In my weakness, He makes me strong.  And then, his glory shines through.  The weakness I am so terrified of others seeing is really the biggest blessing in disguise.  In that weakness, Christ's strength comes forth, showing others what He can do for them, too. 

I am protected.  2 Samuel 22:31 states, "God's way is perfect.  All the Lord's promises prove true.  He is a shield for all who look to him for protection."  Psalm 91:4 says is perfectly, "He will cover you with his feathers.  He will shelter you with his wings.  His faithful promises are your armor and protection."  I am such a girl.  I will totally admit to laying in bed hearing the house groan, creak and shift and wondering if it was just the house or...  The little girls often come to me in the middle of the night with bad dreams, and instead of me scoping out their room, shining the light under the bed, and showing them there are no monsters, I pull them in bed with me.  I am a chicken.  I am afraid the boogie man will pop out from under their bed, and grab my feet.  Well, not really, but...  I often find myself pulling them into bed, and asking God to protect their dreams from evil.  I find these promises so incredibly encouraging.  He will protect those that ask for protection.  He wants our dependence on Him.  It isn't a weakness.  It isn't because I can't flip lights on and check out the situation.  It is just as easy and even more comforting to pull them in bed, hold them for a little while and pray with them.  God is our protector.  We just have to let Him have the job.

I am victorious because "The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory."  ~Exodus 15:2.  I have to remember that the silly struggles I see in the daily madness are really nothing.  God does have a plan of prosperity.  He knows what is going to happen today, long before my feet even get out of bed.  He has given me victory.  That said, just because he has given me victory doesn't mean I have accepted it.  I have just begun to realize that although he is so ready and willing to fight the battles and show me how to be victorious, when I do not ask for or accept his help, he will not help me, not because he isn't able to help, but because I won't let Him.  I have to allow him control so that the victory is truly his, and not mine.  I have to ask and be ready to follow his instruction so that my defeat does not happen. 

I am waiting for that still small voice.  There are so many situations I just want to jump into with both feet right now.  I want to do what Cil wants to do, instead of waiting for God's direction and wisdom.  A friend of mine reminded me today (which was really weird, because the comment wasn't directed at me, at all) that waiting for what God has planned will always be worth it.  The verse, "Be still and know that I am God," goes around and around in my head.  I pray often.  It is amazing, because I find myself talking to God when I don't even realize I am talking to God.  Someone crosses my mind (or stays put there for days on end...) and it becomes this constant prayer.  But, the whole being still part?  Yeah, that is not me.  I struggle.  I wait for that tiny voice.  I try and be still.  It is so incredibly difficult at times.  And yet, I know that the second I stop and wait, calming every distraction, I will hear from God.  Maybe not what I expected at that exact second, maybe not the answer to all of my deepest desires and prayers, but maybe just a song that plays, reminding me of His love for me, His plans for me, or showing me that He heard me and that I am never alone.  Such a blessing to wait it out.  Not feeling the need to rush ahead and fix things.  Wait, okay, feeling the need, but not acting on it.  We all know me, and I am not a patient person.  The feeling is there, but I am getting so much better at silencing the urges!  :)

I am determined.  I am excited.  I am happy.  I am seriously in this race for life.  Call it a marathon, call it a sprint, whatever.  I am excited to see God's hand over me, leading me, gently nudging me where I need to be.  Sometimes, it is a not so gentle shove, too.  Anyway, I am so incredibly happy.  I would never have imagined feeling such contentment and peace less than a year after divorce.  I am honestly thankful for those rocky roads I went down, because they have led me so much closer to God.  I realize that if He can bring me out of all of that, He really can do all things.  It is amazing how easy it is for me to read God's word, but until I have an experience that proves it still is true, I tend to doubt or wonder whether all of it still applies.  I am grateful for the friends who have stuck by me throughout this crazy path, and grateful for the ones I am just now getting to know.  God has such a funny sense of humor when he places people on the same path.  One can really never tell just what God is up to. 

I am tired and relaxed.  The girls really are all asleep now, and I am, once again, blown away by how soothing jumping into the Bible really can be.  I am not saying I have it all sorted out, or that I know what God is thinking, but I do know that He isn't going to take me down any path He isn't willing to drag me out of.  Really amazed at how fortunate I feel tonight.  God is really something amazing.  :)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Oh, the Places...

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town

~ "Oh, the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss

If I were smart, I would follow the advice of Dr. Seuss and head straight out of town.  I would leave behind all of the frustrations of the night and just walk away.  I would walk past the bickering sisters who cannot stand the sight of each other, past the little girl who decided Mommy's bed was the best place to give herself a manicure after bedtime, and past the dog who attacked the almost full bowl of  ice cream, that was so incredibly needed.  Sometimes, I wish the life lessons would happen little bits at a time, instead of caving in on me all at once. 

I am not stupid, but do not feel very wise this night.  Blessed, but not totally smart.  I choose to stay.  I choose to walk the path of sticky hands and fingers, nail polish stained sheets, and the little girl whose heart hurts because big sister thinks she is evil.  I even choose to stay where I know unattended food should be considered fair game to the little black dog from you-know-where.  I choose to sit back and struggle with homework, because struggling with it means I am still getting it done.  I know I am totally blessed.  I lost enough babies to know that a tight squeeze on my sunburned shoulders is a gift, not a pain.  Sticky fingers and nail polish can all be cleaned up, and if not, it leaves a memory.  I know that I am traveling this road for a reason, regardless of the road signs I see - "Danger!"  and "Turn back now!" or even, "Enter at your own risk!"  On a serious note, I know that I am going to do big things.  I know the girls are going to be mighty women of God and are going to do huge things, too.  I just have to get us to that place, and luckily enough, I don't have to do it alone.  I have someone who goes before me, who directs my path, and plans my future for prosperity.  I just have to walk it out, even when I see warning signs all around me. 

I am going to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I pray the girls get good solid sleep tonight, and wake up happy.  I am sure God is looking down on me, frowning at the pandemonium that occurred here tonight, but I  handled it so much better than I used to.  And, by the time they get up in the morning, I will have run 4 or 5 miles, and will feel so much better than I did just a little while ago. 

Dr. Seuss may tell me to head straight out of town, but I choose to just sit in this little spot and find something I want to look forward to, instead of the chaos that is so easy to focus on.  The places He is going to take me are so much better.  He will lead me beside still waters.  He will straighten the curves and smooth out the rough places.  He has this thing all planned out.  I just have to remember where my focus needs to be, instead of oh, the places I could go. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Looking Back

Oh my goodness!  I have been reading back through my posts over the last few months and am amazed at the things that God is doing, just in the span of 4 short months.  It feels like forever that I typed this post.  I am so totally comforted by the ability to pour all of my feelings out there, however, I am so thankful my perspective has changed so drastically.  A friend of mine recommended I read a book called "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers.  What an amazing blessing that book was.  The message I got overall was that God loves me, regardless, and that no physical man could ever fill up the void I was feeling that night (or any other night, for that matter).  The book was a little more than I was ready for, but it gave me such overwhelming hope.  I know that at times we all feel some sort of desperation and loneliness.  My married friends have convinced me that even in a solid marriage, it happens sometimes. 

I have realized that when I walk down a path God has directed, nothing else matters.  Seriously nothing else.  My timing is completely unimportant.  To God, my timing does not matter.  Side note: I run.  I like the feel of pavement meeting my feet, breeze blowing in my sweaty face, and knowing I can do what I set my mind to do.  I especially like starting the clock and seeing if I can beat my previous time.  I want to compete against myself and see if I can get farther, faster.  Anyway, this realization is big for me.  My timing repeatedly fails.  I get discouraged when my time or distance doesn't meet up with my expectations.  The thought hit me tonight when scrolling back through that God's timing is flawless.  It isn't like me running, trying to finish faster.  He doesn't have a stopwatch, seeing how fast I can run across the finish line.  He just wants me to keep moving, at His pace, in His strength.  He wants full dependence, not Cil with her clock, trying to speed up the process.  It is so nice to just sit back and realize the run He has planned for me is not the same as the run I had tonight.  The race I am in is long, hard, and the victory has already been won.  In order to press on, I have to let go of the past, let go of my expectations, and just do it.  I am so glad that I can sit back and rest for God's promises to come forth, to show up when I am most ready to receive them.  I want the best of what He has planned, not just part.  And, if that means wait, I will gladly wait.  He knows just what I need and even knows just when I am going to see it happen.  :)

Gotta Brag!

So, I already feel like I have some of the planet's cutest kids.  This video totally proves it!  Sitting in church last Sunday was slightly hard for me.  I was battling some nasty thoughts and was pretty discouraged.  A sweet voice  catches my attention, totally surprising me, during the announcements video.  Made my whole week!  Thanks to all who helped in the making of!  You guys rock!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Running with Endurance

Well, sort of running with endurance, anyway...  :)  Definitely sounds good, right?  I have been really meditating on Hebrews 12:1 lately.  It says, "...let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us."  Kinda like starting over, emptying myself out, so that I can allow God to fill me with the things I need to get through the day.  Anyway....

Today was the last work day at MDO.  Talk about a looonnnggg day.  I have never felt so emotional or bittersweet in my life.  I woke up this morning, remembering the anxious excitement I felt on a similar morning that now feels like decades ago.  When I first took this job, I knew it was absolutely God working in my life.  However, I seriously doubted I would be able to keep at it for a year, while maintaining school, the adjustment to a recent move, and keeping myself from drowning with life's issues.  Today, I felt such joy and thankfulness in my heart for the changed person that went to work this morning versus the overwhelmed fear-ridden person that went that first day.  Such healing has taken place in me.  Overwhelmingly peaceful healing. 

So much of my day has been focused on reflection; what we have done over the last 9 months in the lives of the kids, their parents, and this ministry.  While I focused quite a bit on the kids I wouldn't be seeing over the summer, as well as those moving on to kindergarten, I couldn't help but think over my life, where it has been, and where God is taking me.  I am blessed, and I am so incredibly thankful. 

Let me just say this, August feels seriously like 3 years ago.  Life has gone by so fast, and yet so insanely slow.  My journey has taken me down roads I never even thought I could experience, much less come out breathing, laughing, smiling and really enjoying.  Anyway, back to August.  My reality 9 months ago was pretty bleak.  I was presented this job opportunity that was really perfectly suited for me.  I was nervous, but felt like I should be capable.  I was still battling the divorce process, just starting a visitation schedule, and trying to understand why God would even care for me, this divorced woman who totally ignored God so many times.  I never slept through the night; sometimes because my kids woke me up, but most often because I would have nightmares that would get me so emotionally spent I couldn't go back to sleep.  I felt like I was walking out hell on earth, not understanding I wasn't being punished or unloved, but that His plan was to draw me close to Him, whatever that took. 

I don't typically share stuff like this, because I hate thinking about how people will react, or the ways they will judge me.  Tonight, I really feel it on my heart to share little bits, and am going to do so.  Through the months of August, September, October and the beginning of November, the only thing that kept me here was seriously the hand of God.  Between motherhood, school, work, panic attacks, exhaustion, fear, anxiety, and severe depression, I really shouldn't be alive.  I never attempted to kill myself, but prayed more than once that God would just let me die. I was tired of fighting every single issue.  I was so weary of the fear that was literally eating me alive.  It would be easier for God to just take me.  I even wondered if maybe I was supposed to help God out and just do it for Him.  My girls are honestly the only reason I am here, alive, today.  I knew their lives needed me in it.  So I kept breathing, even when I felt like I was drowning, I kept breathing.  Completely the hand of God.   

Let me just say this.  God is amazing.  He constantly astounds me.  He knew just what I would need, and when I would need it.  He knew the people I would need, the financial situation I would be in, and the confirmation of being on the right path.  Why we doubt his love, plans, or awesomeness, I will never understand. 

God placed me in a church during the darkest hours of my life.  While I may have been working in an MDO program, the program is a ministry of the church, and takes place in a church.  Where better to teach me how His love to surrounds me?  He knew this environment would allow His incredible peace to wash over me.  He placed me in an environment where I wouldn't be alone.  He planted incredible women around me to love me, hug me, and most importantly, pray with and over me.  Looking back, I am absolutely amazed at the vision I can clearly see of me literally resting in the palm of one open hand, the other resting almost on top of it, protecting me from only He truly knows what.  Even when I thought He was so far away, He was so close.  I used to get so frustrated that it always seemed Monday and Wednesday nights were my worst nights. It seemed that when I knew I would need sleep the most, I got the least amount.  Looking back now, I honestly believe God allowed things to happen when He knew I would have people around me to lift me up.  In my weakness, His strength shone through.  I cannot describe how many mornings it was a child that would just smile when he or she saw me that kept me from crying.  How many mornings I went to work on the verge of breaking down, and having someone stop and pray with me.  This job was not just a job for me, but a realization that He was genuinely looking out for me.  His plan was to allow me to heal, grow and rest in Him.  I have an insanely bright future because of things He placed in my path years ago.  I am so blessed.  I am so thankful.  Words can't even express.  To the ladies that have helped me over the last little bit, thank you.  You will never know how much of an impact you have had in my life.  You will never know how much your hugs, time, tears and prayers have changed my life for the better.  Thank you doesn't seem enough, but will have to do. 

I will never say I have overcome fear or anxiety.  I will never say that I will never again experience the insanity of a panic attack.  I can say this: God is bigger.  He is stronger.  He is working for my good.  Through all of the craziness, I have learned I have a Comforter.  I have a Protector.  I have the ultimate Provider, Helper, and Peace-Giver.  So many things, can't even name them all.  I have had one panic episode since Thanksgiving.  I have had two nightmares.  In August, I was experiencing between 3-5 nightmares per night.  I never thought 9 short months later I wouldn't even be able to remember what they were about.  I am so thankful, too. 

I remember feeling so helpless.  The amazing part?  I don't feel helpless now.  I feel God's power and strength pouring through me.  I know that I may not like exactly where I am at right now, but God has it all figured out.  I love knowing I can help the girls understand it, too, because when I am struggling with something I feel I can't do, I just have to remind myself, I can do all things....  I was tucking Sara in to bed a few nights ago, and was praying with Sara.  She was worried about an upcoming situation that is a little new and a little scary for her.  Her words to me were, "Mommy, I can't do this."  As a mom, my heart was pretty much ripped out of my chest and thrown at a wall.  I was hurting for her.  It was at this moment I realized she was limiting herself to what she could do in her own ability.  I looked at her and said, "Sara, you can do this.  The Bible says, I can do all things in Christ, who will strengthen me."  She laughed, and said, "Mommy, actually, it says, I can do everything in Christ, who gives me strength."  She still said she really didn't want to do what she had to do, but knew she was able to, because Christ would give her strength.  She even knew it word for word, unlike her mommy.  :) 

Here I sit, excited for what may or may not be coming my way.  I know that with time, God will reveal the next season to me, and when He does, I will be ready.  I am so happy that I have the opportunity to have my girls with me all but 4 days a month.  I am so thankful God placed me in a church setting that loves me and my girls, regardless of our status.  I can't wait to completely strip off these things that are just slowing me down and really run the race I was called to finish, and even more, so thankful I don't have to do it with my energy or strength!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Awake at Dawn

The last few weeks have been an intense struggle for me.  I have tried to maintain positivity and remain strong.  I failed miserably.  I think I was trying to endure life in my own strength instead of relying on the strength that exceeds human capacity.  I was very gently reminded this week repeatedly, "My grace is enough.  It is all you need.  My strength comes into its own in your weakness."  In my weakness.  My weakness opens doors for me that exceed understanding.  Weakness does not equal failure, even though the human mind tends to think that way.  I am guilty of this line of thought more often than not.  I feel that I am a strong, independent person.  When I can't do something, it is because of a weakness or failure.  I forget that in that weakness, Christ will remain my strength.  However, I have to accept that strength.  Accept weakness, exchange it for strength, and realize his grace is more than enough.  

Three massive things happened to me today.  A reality check, a breakdown, and the reminder that I am strong, because He is with me.  I feel the need to expand on each of these things, so bear with me...  :)

This morning, I was awake as the sun started to come up. My blinds were open, and I watched my room slowly change colors from darkness to light.  I didn't sleep last night.  Situations and events that should have made me happy and at peace left me feeling empty, alone, exhausted, and troubled.  I woke up no less than 10 times last night to replay events, conversations, and exciting situations happening in my life right now.  None of these things are bad, none of them should have left me feeling empty.  But all of them did.  As I lay in bed, wide awake, angry at the lack of sleep and the inability to control my thoughts, I was reminded new mercies are extended with every sunrise.  Before I continue, I want to say this.  I am not a happy jump out of bed morning person.  Especially after a night of little sleep.  So, this realization that should have provided me with joy did exactly the opposite.  I had the words "Start Over" spoken loudly, yet inaudibly, to me yesterday.  I heard it, and yet didn't understand.  This morning, I was reminded again.  As light was coming in, it beckoned to me, start over.  New day, new mercies, being made new all over again.  Instead of grasping it and running with it, I got angry.  I don't know why.  I have been feeling frustrated with life, feeling like I am walking out what I am supposed to be doing, and yet getting no answers from God.  So, feeling dawn this morning and a fresh start really just made it worse.  Honestly, I pretty much lost it.  I got angry.  I said things I regret.  I was just plain mad at God for leaving me in a situation I don't like, for longer than I feel is necessary.  I feel punished.  I expressed that.  I broke down.  And, the really horrible part, I felt worse than I had before.  I wanted nothing more than to crawl in a pity-party hole and pity myself. 

Eventually, I finished getting around, went to church, struggled through nursery, really just wanting to lose it.  I just wanted to sit down and battle with someone.  I went to church, and sat there, not even wanting to worship.  Like seriously not worshipping.  Then, first kick in the butt: Pastor Derek said out loud, if we don't praise him the rocks will.  I quickly realized how stupid I was acting.  Not praising and worshipping wasn't punishing God, because the rocks, plants, and all of creation would gladly praise in my place, if that is the way I wanted it.  It was punishing me.  I was acting like a child.  I was so thankful for a change of perspective.  I seriously wish someone would have said that to me walking into church.  It is okay.  I am forgiven and loved, and it is okay.  My lesson was learned.  I don't praise because of all the good in my life.  I praise because of who He is.  It shouldn't matter my state of mind.  He is deserving, even on my worst day. 

Then, I sit down in my less angry state of mind, and see Cassidy up on the screen.  She is reminding me to be strong and brave, because God is with me.  Weakness is made strong.  Be strong.  I can't be strong with Christ's strength if I am strong in my own.  I must me made weak to be made strong.  Even in all of the month's ups and downs, I can rest assured my weakness isn't weakness at all, but strength.  And, I can completely accept that as success and not failure.  Not really sure where I am going with all of this but just to say I am good.  His grace is more than enough, and all that I need.  :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Woes and Wonder of Why

The girls have been so crazy lately!  It seems like every time I stop to catch my breath, they find something else to do, get into, or spill.  I am a little tired.  I have stopped and started several different posts, but I really struggled with them, and at that point, the post is no longer worth it to me.  Anyway, I have discovered the girls have their own little ways of communicating with each other.  Communication should be considered a blessing.  However, sometimes it can be yelling through tears, spoken through incredibly bossy tones (do I really sound like that?!?), or said with the most ooey-gooey love.  Their levels of communication are best left between them.  While it can drive my insane sometimes, today I have heard little snippets of conversations that just make me laugh every time I replay them in my head. 

Cassidy today was quite sad.  We were sitting in the car rider line, waiting to pick up Sara.  We had a really long wait today, as I left early to run an errand, only to realize I hadn't allowed quite enough time.  Anyway, she was talking to Jess, getting almost mad at her, because she kept copying everything Cassie said.  I was giggling, because Jess can be such a pill sometimes.  I love seeing it.  Probably the little sister in me, laughing at the big sister's misfortune...  Anyway, Cassie asked me to make her quit.  When I explained that Jessie just wanted to be just like her, Cassie got even more upset.  Being female, I should seriously understand more about female emotions.  Apparently, I do not know it all.  When I told Cassie that Jessie just loved her because she was the best big sister ever, she started crying.  Crying.  Way to go, Mom.  Trying to encourage, motivate, uplift, and I reduce the kid to tears.  Finally, I asked her what was up.  She told me, I can't ever be the best big sister, because the best big sister ever is Sara.  I didn't even have words.  The thoughts that went through my mind were not the best mommy thoughts.  I was pretty frustrated.  Frustrated that this saddened Cassie so much, frustrated that Sara doesn't really prefer to spend time with Cassie, and yet, this little girl still adores her, and frustrated that I couldn't even tell her my real thoughts on the best big sister ever (in my house, that award goes to...  yeah, not gonna go there).  Needless to say, I changed the subject to how lucky we were to be so close to the front of the line.  It worked.  Once again, saved by the squirrel... : )

Jessica has finally mastered the art of conversation.  She totally understands to keep any conversation going, you must ask direct questions.  Her favorite: Why?  Talk about making me want to rip my hair out!  Anything you say or ask is answered with, "Why?"  This has been going on for about three and a half weeks.  I am hoping we are close to the end.  I tried giving her real answers.  I tried ignoring the question (BIG mistake as it only made her repeat the question with much more intensity).  I have finally resorted to answering her with, "Because, Jess."  So, today, she asks me, "Why, Momma?"  She paused for about a half second, touches my face to look at my eyes, and answers herself, "Because?"  I just about died laughing.  I think I need to start her therapy fund now.  Poor girl will struggle with that question for the rest of eternity.  God so knew what he was sending me when He trusted me with her.  Precious, precious girl. 

As normally happens when I write, I just had the most crazy thought.  We, as in all of us as human beings, have probably experienced something undesirable in our lives.  I know I have asked God this one very simple question about 8,000 times over the last several years.  This thing happens, I always say, "Why, God?  Why now?  Why at all? WHY????"  Speaking about myself, and not necessarily whoever is on the other side of this post reading, anything that I come across that causes my faith to waiver, my stability to crumble, or my doubts to emerge always gets that exact same response, "Why?!"  I get so frustrated with not understanding.  I find myself constantly praying, "Lord, I totally trust you to guide my path.  I trust You have this situation (or that one, or that other one over there...).  Just help me to understand why."  I don't usually get an answer when I think I should.  While I am getting better with sitting back and just resting, I still find myself asking, "WHY????"  more often that I would really like to admit.  His word clearly tells us in Isaiah 55, "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord.  "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." 

Don't think I will be answering Jess with "My thoughts are nothing like yours..."  But, this comparison really is giving me some insight as to how frustrated He must get (well, I am sure His parenting skills are far better than mine, so He probably doesn't) with me and my constant need to know why.  I have no problem accepting the answer, the circumstance, the occasional setback, the trial, the valleys, the mountain tops.  I do struggle with just wanting to know why right away.  I know God will give me the strength I need to achieve whatever He allows to cross my paths.  He is an incredibly giving God.  I guess we all (okay, I really mean I) just need to sit back and quit asking that horrible, frustrating, annoying question, and remember that my answer is probably pretty close to His.  Just because, Cil.  Just because. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I've Picked You....

Jessie Paige 
When I sit back and think, my thoughts often get the best of me.  Instead of remembering all of the incredible blessings, it is often easy for me to get overwhelmed with the responsibilities mommy-hood has brought me.  I often long for more than what is right around me, anxious for the future. It is incredibly easy to fall into the glass-half-empty (or completely bone-dry) mentality.  I feel so pulled in so many different directions, without much time to just stop, sit back and not have to think about anything.  In my study time, I have read repeatedly, "Be still."  For anyone that knows me, being still or calm or quiet is not my strong suit.  Neither is waiting.  And yet, "Be still.  Just wait." 

Cassie Rae
As if the last several posts haven't made it obvious, I have been seriously struggling with my past over the last few weeks. I have allowed doom and gloom to reign over me, and why?  I couldn't quite put my finger on why it seemed so hard the last few weeks.  After spending some time really trying to determine what was going on, I realized I had put a time limit on God and what he could and would do and when he was going to do it.  That time limit had come and gone with nothing, not even a small glimpse.  So, instead of rejoicing in the fact I had survived the time limit, and survived it insanely well, I despaired, thinking God surely must have given up on me, and I really wasn't what I thought his word says I was.  I had made up my mind that God could give me my wildest hopes and dreams, but that probably isn't His plan for my life, so I needed to just give it up.  I started praying instead for what I really wanted, for God to just change my heart - all because it would be easier than this path of uncertain future I am standing on today.  

Sara B
After a long chat with a friend last night, I gave in once more to tears of total frustration.  It has become so easy to do.  And, sitting there, praying, struggling, really trying to figure out what in the world was going on with me, I realized.  God still has this.  If I were supposed to know exactly what was going on, I would.  I have often used the first verses in Isaiah 43 as my go to place when I am struggling with who I am in Christ.  My Message Bible puts it this way: "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 your 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 off the whole world to get you back, trade creation just for you."  I allow myself to really meditate on God trading all of creation just to have me.  Went to look for this motivation and encouragement this morning, and was on the wrong page.  Didn't realize it, and instead was given this, "You're my servant, serving on my side.  I've picked you.  I haven't dropped you.  Don't panic.  I'm with you.  There's no need to fear, for I am your God.  I'll give you strength.  I'll help you.  I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you."  The three words that stood out?  I've picked you.  As I sit here, in complete confusion, I have to just know He picked me.  He has this plan to take care of me, and not abandon me, with plans to give me the future I hope for.  He has made me for a purpose.

I had a moment of complete humiliation last week, and have struggled with it since.  I have beat myself up because of things I could have done differently, things I could have said, wishing I had the nerve for a confrontation to really get the things off my chest that I want to.  I have prayed for wisdom, as well as the ability to put it behind me and forget all about it.  Then, something new popped up.  At this point, I am so incredibly ticked off at myself for not just being the forgiving person I am.  I felt walked on and hurt.  Again, I didn't understand how I was supposed to be gaining strength from opposition.  I looked at all of the events with a glass so dry, it was growing brittle and on the verge of shattering to a million pieces.  And yet, my God reminded me this morning, I might be on the verge of shattering, but he hasn't dropped me, and he isn't going to let me fall.  I sit safely in the palm of his hand.  Anything that crosses my path is because He placed it there.

While I can't honestly say I feel like my glass is completely full and overflowing this morning, I can say I know it isn't going to break.  It is definitely half full.  I have so much.  God isn't telling me I won't ever have the things I want, He is just telling me they won't happen this second.  I can't see past this moment.  I am trusting that He has it all figured out, I just have to let Him show me the way.  So, instead of worrying about the when and where, I am going to force myself to just be thankful for the here and now.  And there is much to be thankful for.