Sunday, July 29, 2012

I alone...

I alone is an incredibly terrifying statement.  It implies the reality of I being a solitary person.  Alone.  I alone feel weak.  I alone feel incapable.  I alone am a little weary.  I alone am not worthy, or perfect. And, for the present time, this is true.  I am alone, and one person alone cannot accomplish what two (or more) can accomplish.  And, I was really ready to sit down and throw myself a "alone" pity party.  Until I got to thinking about what God would have to say about that.

While I do not want to pretend to be God, I am pretty sure it would go something like this, "Cil, you are not alone.  You alone are stronger than any circumstance, because I am with you.  You alone are fully capable, because with me you can do anything.  Cil, you alone may be weary, so let me carry you for a while so you can finish this strong.  Cil, you alone will never be worthy or perfect.  But someone who was without a single sin took care of it for you." 

I have been so emotional over the last few days.  I am so happy.  And, yet feeling so incredibly powerless.  Walking into church this morning literally took my breath away.  The hallways were lined with booths, explaining to others how they could help me and other single mommas just like me.  I sat in service literally fighting tears the entire time, because I knew once they started they wouldn't stop.  No judgement.  No shame.  No condemnation.  Just love.  And I am so thankful. 

I have had two conversations about love in the last few days.  Not love, like romantic love, but love like how much I am loved by the creator of everything.  And, it overwhelms me completely.  My mind doesn't understand it, my heart doesn't know what to do with it, and I just want to be able to put it all into some understandable thought.  I am okay with failing this one time.  What really gets me is the most amazing thought ever: I can do nothing to be more or less worthy than the next person.  I can do nothing for God to decide to stop loving me.  I cannot outrun it.  I can try to hide from it, but the truth is, it is still sitting there waiting for me.  I can't even try to describe the emotion I feel today. 

Sitting in church this morning, a line from a song we sung kept going over and over, "Who is worthy? None beside thee..." It made me realize, regardless of who or where I am in my life, I come to the same God as everyone else.  The One who just wants me to draw close to him, so he can draw close to me.  I was just killing time reading a few blogs this afternoon, and came upon a verse in Ephesians, "...may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."  And I realized, I am really truly loved.  Fully and completely.  Alone physically, and yet loved more than any human is capable of loving.

I alone am courageous.  I alone am doing life the way God expects me to.  I alone am blessed.  I alone am doing big things.  I alone am loved extravagantly... 

Note to any single mom who may be reading this: Please check out this site for more information on how Northridge Church would love to help you! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012


As this last week has gone by, I have been a little discouraged that I haven't gotten more accomplished for my connect group tomorrow night.  Then I started thinking...

In the days before my first connect group session, I was wisely warned to be prepared, because if it could happen on that Friday, it would.  And, it did.  Jess got really sick, high fever, cranky, the works.  I forgot some items (more than once did I turn around and go back...), and was late to the meeting.  It went off beautifully, and because I was prepared, none of it mattered.

So, the last time, it poured.  Rained cats and dogs, and a little water, too.  And, I got a flat tire.  Twice.  Yup.  Great, huh?  Sadly, I wasn't as prepared for obstacles.  It all worked just fine, just not totally prepared.  But, I was on time, a little nervous, and it went great.  God spoke some incredible-ness into some amazing women. 

So, this time?  Yeah, the obstacles have gotten substantially larger, and I fear they just might win.  Where do I start?  An incredibly difficult class and large papers to write started my week.  Moving on to cranky kids and lack of sleep mixed together.  Add to that 6 kids on my own.  A job interview.  An early morning wake-up call (like 6am early, three times in a row, I seriously thought there was an emergency!).  A broken water heater.  A flooded garage and entry way.  At 9 o'clock at night.  A broken glass that flew everywhere, immediately following the clean up and taking care of water heater.  Cleaning up said glass three times.  Jessie finding a missed piece with her foot 24 hours later.  Sitting in urgent care for 3 hours while they dug it out.  And, finally, dealing with a sad little girl, because her toe still hurts.  A thousand, is what she told me.  I assume since she loves me two thousand, it hurts bad. 

And, even if I fly by the seat of my pants, you can bet I am gonna bring whatever God gives me tomorrow.  And come August 10 (the next meet), I think I am going to walk around in bubble wrap, light no candles, and pretend I live in a giant bubble so nothing goes wrong.  A little concerned, but know nothing is going to stop me. 

That said, Jess is asleep, the storms have passed, and I am  going to bed.  I am worn out. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Day...

I am just going to warn anyone who might be daring enough to read this.  I am complaining.  As of this second, there is no encouraging insight for the end.  Never fails to happen, I write something that just pours out, people comment about it, let me know it was helpful, and my life seems to fall into pieces around me.  I know that isn't exactly accurate, but right now it is how I feel.  I just need to sit back and write, and the only thing on my mind right now is to make sure this day ends.  It's been a rough one...

I had a horrible nightmare last night.  I woke up in such an intense state of panic, I wasn't able to take a breath.  I really do not feel it is necessary to go into all of the details, but it was the worst one I have had yet.  Thankfully, I haven't had one anywhere like this in a very long time.  I haven't even had a nightmare in a long time.  Progress is so amazing, and yet, all it takes is one bad night to make me feel like a loser all over again.  I woke up before the sun came up, after dealing with one little girl having the same issues.  She told me after waking up to a bad dream in the middle of the night, angels were fighting bad guys.  She was afraid because the bad guys had swords, but the angels didn't.  When I questioned her about it this morning, she said the angels won, but they always do, right?  I love her reasoning. 

Anyway, after finally crawling out of bed, the girls and I met the rest of the cousins for the summer movies in Hendersonville.  Won't complain about that, as the girls have talked almost non-stop about the chimpanzees, and baby chimpanzees, and sad chimpanzees, and anything chimpanzees.  And listening to Jess say chimpanzee is hysterical, so I did not discourage any chimpanzee talk.  After we got home, Jess thankfully laid down.  I attempted to rest, but my mind got the better of me.  Eventually, I gave up and got some stuff done.  The big girls fought all afternoon.  I love them to pieces and wouldn't trade them for anything, but the fighting makes me ready for school to start.  I think they have had enough of each other for a little while.  The fighting wears on my nerves, stresses me out and reminds me that I don't have it all together.  I hate feeling that way, and am struggling to put those thoughts from my head.  It's a process... 

Anyway, went to church, had a lot of fun, and felt so blessed to have so many (18!) kiddos running circles around me.  And, I love that most are so happy to see me.  It just lets me know that no one is too little to be ministered to.  No one is too little to experience God.  And, when your gift is working with kids, you better do it.  I get so much out of it.  Especially nursery stickers stuck to crazy places, unbeknownst to me.  So glad I have no one to impress, or I would've been mortified tonight...  :)

Got home tonight, pulled in the garage, and started to get out.  Realized the front corner of the garage is under water.  About an inch deep.  Talk about frustrating.  I finally pinpointed where I think the water was coming from, was eventually able to see it leaking from the water heater.  Let me just say, I failed this test.  I sent the girls in to the house for jammies.  Ten minutes later, the girls come out, flipping out because there is glass all over the place.  I go in, sure enough, a glass has broken and shattered across two entire rooms.  There are tiny shards of glass in every single direction.  At this point, I am beyond frustrated.  While I know where the water is leaking from, I know nothing about what to do with it.  And now, on top of it all, there is broken glass, too.  Fun stuff.

I kept quoting that scripture in Deuteronomy 31 about how God will never leave us or forsake us.  I kept saying it over and over.  Let me just say, I have never felt so alone.  I felt no quiet voice, no calming spirit.  Nothing.  While I won't say I was abandoned, because his word says I will never be abandoned by him, that is definitely not the way I felt.  I have this massively huge mess in the garage, leaking into the downstairs entryway.  Three little girls flipping out because there are broken pieces of glass everywhere.  I tried phoning several friends with husbands who could walk me through what I needed to do with the water heater, all to no avail.  That moment when I could have just been happy to have found the leak before more damage had been done was nowhere to be seen.  I was just frustrated.  I kept reminding myself that God only allows tests in that will strengthen our dependence on him.  And, let me just say, believing any of it was difficult, and I did not pass this test with flying colors.  After I finally got a little help, I just about lost it. 

I know it was time for a breakdown.  I know there have been so many things weighing on my heavily over the last little bit of time.  And, the situation isn't as bad as it felt.  However, as I sit here thinking about the events of the day, I realize I am tired.  So completely tired.  I have not gotten my notes for my connect group together, I have not made cards.  I have not completed the housework that I needed to.  I have homework that remains unfinished.  I have yet to pack the girls for the next long visit away.  Life is happening, and I am feeling so pulled in 5,192 directions right now.  There are so many things I want to be able to accomplish.  There is so much I want to be able to serve with, work on, or just do for me.  And yet, every time I feel renewed and charged up enough to do anything, something bad happens.  Maybe I should just re-read last night's (wow, two nights in a row!) post about bad stuff and how and why it happens. 

At the end of this day, I just have to remember I survived.  The house didn't collapse.  And by tomorrow, I may desperately need a shower, or the problem could be fixed.  Who really knows?  The girls thought it was funny.  Sara wondered if we could turn the air on in the garage (no, we do not have an air conditioned garage) and freeze the water to skate on.  Cass showed Jess that it was a perfect jumping puddle.  And I didn't even slip and fall, okay I did slip, but never fell through the whole ordeal.  I guess I will just deal with whatever comes my way tomorrow, and can probably rest assured it will be better than today...  :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Bad Stuff

I had the first somewhat quiet night tonight in a little bit of time.  It was a much needed break, with many moments to sit back and realize how quiet three little girls are compared to six amazing, but spirited, kids.  There is a huge difference, but in the quiet, I have realized I am capable.  I can care for more kids than I can ever imagine having - and be good at it.  The house (while not spotless, by any means) is not thrashed.  Dinners have been made and cleaned up.  Kids have rested, played hard and made memories.  They have fallen asleep whispering and giggling with cousins, concocting more fun for the coming day.  Seeing their smiles, hearing their laughter, even breaking up a few fights has really given me an exhausting boost.  This is the stuff that makes life worth living. 

I haven't really had much time to process the stuff happening here lately.  Not that there is anything horribly bad happening, just stuff that is so much easier to overlook, sweep under the rug and just pretend it isn't happening until that day comes when it finally seems easier to process.  That day for me was today.  I put the girls to bed, read a little bit of connect group material, then turned on a movie.  I fully anticipated falling asleep prior to the end.  This movie was at the bottom of my Netflix queue, not because I didn't want to see it, just that there were other movies I would have rather seen.  It turns out I got pretty much exactly what I bargained for.  A Christian romance, while not quite child friendly, but definitely not The Vow (thank God, because there aren't enough tissues in this entire house for me to see that movie again).  Ten minutes in, I was ready to turn the movie off.  I was frustrated by the lack of acting skills (which is funny, because I don't usually notice stuff like that), and by the way the words were spoken, with emotion, but not in the right places.  I told myself I was going to finish my bowl of ice cream, shut it off, and go to sleep.  By the end of my ice cream, the plot made itself clear and I decided to hang in there, at least for a few more minutes. 

The movie was a Christian movie, and so I anticipated some preachy message intended to drop subtle hints about what being a Christian is about.  I was pretty wrong.  There wasn't much mention of the sinful ways of the world...  :)  However, there was one line that just keeps going through my head.  Not exactly sure how the line went, but it was something like this: This life is full of good stuff, great stuff, even.  But you have to fight through all the bad stuff to get to the great stuff.  While those are not immediately life changing words, for me, in a quiet house, those words were enough to provoke some major thought processes.  By the time the movie was over, I knew I had to sit down and write for a few.

Do we only cherish the good after the bad because we know how bad the bad is?  Does the human perspective change because of the bad, or does the bad change us?  When we are presented with unfortunate circumstances, are we allowing those circumstances to completely forever change us?  Is it possible for us to remember that God's plan is bigger than our circumstance, regardless of how massively huge that circumstance feels?  It is so easy for me to sit and type these thoughts that are flowing so freely tonight, but when I wake up tomorrow morning, what am I going to remind myself?  Am I going to remind myself that God is in control of these feelings that are tempting to take control but allow them to take over anyway, or am I going to remind myself those feelings are a fight to the top, to what God has planned for me?  It is so easy for me to quote Jeremiah 29:11 over and over.  "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Sometimes it seems so simple.  And then, wham.  That unforeseen situation.  The sudden change in plans.  The hurt that cuts deep.  The betrayal of someone you love.  No matter the circumstance, it is so easy to give in, saying, "Okay, God, yeah, these plans of yours?  Really helpful.  Thanks.  A lot.  I am not really feeling the prosperity, the future, the hope.  You said it, but obviously, you didn't see this one coming..."  It could be any mixture of words.  I have a feeling I am not the only one that has had this (or a similar) conversation with God.  I have this feeling that so many feel like this one day or another.  While studying a while back (I can't even remember when this part grabbed me), I realized that this verse is amazing and powerful, and holds so much incredible hope and promise.  But, only when you realize that it isn't the only verse in the Bible.  It has some warm up exercises, as well as some post-run stretches.  Starting in verse 4: "This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.  Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters.  Increase in number there; do not decrease.  Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.  Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."  Gonna pause for a minute.  Exile?  Uhh, funny that word should be mentioned.  Don't know if many really understand what this means.  Exile is the prolonged separation from one's country or home, as by force of circumstances.  Hmmm....  Yeah, this is totally making me think even harder.  So, God's people are being reminded that even in the midst of being kicked out of their own country, being banished from their homes, if this land prospers, so will they.  No one is going to convince me that the force of their circumstances was a nice stroll in the park.  It was probably the most uphill, grueling marathon ever known to man.  Definitely not the good stuff.  Picking back up, "Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel says: Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you.  Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have.  They are prophesying lies to you in my name.  I have not sent them," declares the Lord."  Again, more circumstance.  More unforeseen junk being thrown in their path.  I feel like I don't know which way to go so many times.  Every time I make one decision, it feels like twenty more are being tossed in my way, expecting my time, attention and wisdom to make the perfect choice.  Picking the good from the bad.  Or maybe just realizing this is just the bad stuff.   "This is what the Lord says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place."  Seventy years.  Seventy.  Not seven.  Not days, weeks or months.  Seventy years.  I feel like my heartache is bad, I feel like I want to give up hope?  Can you imagine how grim these people must have felt when they heard God say after seventy years are completed?  Only after that seventy years was God able to fulfill the verse we know so well, "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  This is where my imagination kicks in.  I see myself, after completing my seventy years, sitting back in a lounge chair, warm sand between my toes, a nice tall glass of ice-cold sweet tea in my hand, the gentle sound of waves crashing along the shore.  Yup, these are definitely plans to prosper right?  Yeah, but those aren't God's plans.  Well, hopefully at some point, for a week or two, they will be God's plans, but that is a whole different story for a different day...  This little section continues on, it doesn't end.  God reminds us there is one more teeny tiny clause to the verse.  A little challenge at the end of a difficult run.  "Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." 

I am sure I am taking this slightly out of context, or probably a lot out of context, but can you imagine, this verse almost sounds like only after we suffer and God pulls us out do we turn to him and seek him out.  Why is it so simple to pray and be joyous when things are going good?  Why can we not see that there is good waiting for us, right on the other side of the bad?  Why can we not just trust that God has it all taken care of?  This bad that we see or feel or worry about is for our overall good.  He wouldn't put it there if it weren't going to prosper us or someone around us in some way, at some point.  Kinda seems to me, that maybe if we would turn to him first, instead of stressing and worrying about our circumstances, that maybe his ability to prosper our lives wouldn't be so difficult to see.  That maybe, just maybe, we could just know that God is way bigger than this, and he knows way better than we do what he is doing, as well as the things he is preparing for us.

For a long time, I was so terrified of who I was, the stinky choices that I made, the past mistakes, so many nights I pretended God wasn't there and didn't exist.  I am just now beginning to realize that without all of that, I wouldn't know who God is, how he can love someone pitiful and pathetic.  How he can see me, with every single one of my faults, and think countless good thoughts about me.  I saw a picture somewhere online, and saved it.  Every once in a while, my screen saver will turn on, and I will catch myself reading it just when I need it.  It is supposed to be a memo from God.  It says, "You are beautiful.  I know, because I made you.  God."  Every time I see it, I am reminded that regardless of the things my past holds, today, this exact moment, God sees beauty.  Not because I am perfect, or that I am pretty or fashionable, not because I am so talented and confident, but because he made me.  He desires me to have every single thing I need.  He desires it for every single one of his children, too.  Its like a parent, holding their child's hand as they are getting kindergarten shots.  The poor child is sitting there, wanting to be doing anything but that, and the parent can only hold their hand, reassure them that it won't last forever, that they aren't leaving them stranded, and it really is for their prosperity.  I am not really sure where any of this came from, but it seems like exactly what I needed to be reminded of tonight.  Once again, good stuff from bad stuff.  God is so amazingly awesome, and honestly, I am pretty happy to have experienced bad stuff, because I have realized that there really is good and bad, and everyone, regardless of how amazing they appear to be, will experience both.  It is how you handle it (your strength or God's?), and who you look to for help (do you look to those around you, or do you just stop and look up?) that makes all the difference in the world... 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Random Thoughts

This is the third post I have written since I posted my last post.  Kinda makes me laugh, because one of those unpublished posts talked about having a love/hate relationship with the number three, and there it is again.  I am really in a strange mind-set where I really feel like writing and writing and writing and yet, nothing makes sense or feels right, so I post nothing instead and hit delete when I am finished.  I am not really sure what is going on in my head, and know I am feeling way too much with my heart right now.  Hoping this attempt is successful at going through what is in my head.

I have had the most fun/crazy/emotional week, though.  My nephews and a niece are in from Texas, and we have been having quite a bit of inexpensive fun.  While I was not told to do inexpensive things with them, it has been fun to find frugal ways of keeping 6 kids (from almost 3 to 12) entertained.  Most times, the older three do something while the younger three do another thing.  It has been so fun to watch how they have paired off, and the constant chatter will seriously be missed when they go home on Saturday.  We have done simple science experiments, most of which were successful, seen a baseball game, driven to a faraway zoo, eaten with chopsticks, had some water days, balloon fights, more science experiments, survived grocery shopping at Sam's Club, attended church on several occasions (and we weren't even late!), and swimming with friends today.  Thinking about doing a picnic/park day tomorrow and am even contemplating a lake day Friday.  I am sure I will be getting quite a bit of catch-up sleep when they leave, though.  I haven't slept well in what seems like forever.  Which leads me to the sleep-deprived emotional wreck that I am.  Sleep-deprived emotional wreck, that is still having fun and making many memories...

The girls leave for their second (and final for this year) 10 day visitation on Friday.  I will not see them until the first day of school.  This is a scary thought.  School is getting ready to start, and I feel like we haven't even had a break.  I have had so much fun and made so many memories with the girls this summer, and am really not looking forward to losing so many hours a day with Sara.  And yet, on the other hand, I miss my MDO kiddos and am ready to have a class again.  I am ready to decorate classrooms, get to know kids, and teach them some basic skills.  I am ready for a solid routine, and the freshness a new school year brings. 

The girls have such mixed feelings about going away this time.  Sara has mentioned that she will go, but only if Dad's girlfriend is there.  This makes me happy, that at least the girls like her, but am sad that they don't look forward to spending time alone with him.  I try to not read anything into it, but it is quite difficult not to.  Part of me is excited about them going, and part of me is really dreading it.  I am ready for a fresh coat of paint on our bathroom.  I love painting, but hate doing it with kids around.  So, this is really the perfect opportunity.  I have several sewing projects lined up, and know sewing will definitely help pass several days.  I also have a consignment sale "job" lined up for a few days, so again, a few more days are gone, too.  I am looking forward to seeing accomplishment without little girl related complications mixed in.  It will be a little different this time around, though, because I will have the house totally empty for most of the time they are gone.  My mom will be out of town, and it will definitely be interesting.  I don't do alone and quiet well, so this experience will be a test of my endurance, I am thinking.  I hope to get several long early morning runs in, too.  Honestly, this is what I am looking forward to the most. 

I sound crazy, but I totally am going through running withdrawals.  When I could run, we were having 100+ temps everyday, and I opted to not sweat my weight out every other day with a run.  Probably not the best choice, but it seemed good at the time.  With all the kids here, running went from a slim window of opportunity to not going to happen at all.  I am counting down the days until I can just get out there and go.  I miss it really desperately.  Yeah, crazy.  Trust me, I know.  ;)  Listening to three little girls fight in the living room over who gets to be the mommy makes me want to run even more.  And, now I sit trying to figure out how to get 6 kids to run with me.  Now I really do sound crazy! 

That said, I guess I will keep this post simple and fast, as I think I have 4.5 seconds before World War 3 breaks out here.  Hoping for some massively huge miracles to happen this week when I try to get my connect group studying done, as I have had very little time to read or study for it.  Praying I get some much needed insight and direction to a few of my struggles right now, too....

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Little of this, Little of that...

Due to the overwhelming demand for this girl to be an aunt, I don't have much time for blogging at the moment.  Not that I don't have things to write about, just that I can't stop conducting science experiments, playing kickball, or watching ball games...  :)

Deciding what item to use for the eggs-periment...
Measuring out baking soda, rock salt, sea salt, cream of tartar,
and sugar and choosing their colors...
Our predictions for what each egg would do,
as well aswhat the eggs started like...

The sugar and baking soda eggs, Day 2
The salt eggs, Day 2

After all of our experimenting, we played a game, enjoyed a quiet afternoon, and headed to Greer Stadium to watch the Sounds battle it out with none other than Round Rock Express! It was a great game, two extra innings, and just for the boys, Express took the lead in the 11th inning and won by one point! We came home with two baseballs, and a lot of happy, yet tired, kiddos. So glad they are here! 
The little girls had no clue there was a ball game going on. 
The parking lot was much more interesting...
They constantly pair themselves off, which kinda makes
me laugh.  The two babies...

The two middles... 

And the two oldest. 

They really were sitting next to each other, too.  :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thinking + Late Night = Dangerous

Ever have those moments when you know you are totally doing incredible, and yet, your mind just won't let you accept it (I am sitting here, almost hearing the verse, "Be still and know that I am God)?  I am so incredibly happy and content with where life is today, but feel like I have been in a mind battle since I left my connect group last night.  I am working so hard to accept myself as I am, with a few areas in desperate need of a little positive change.  I am ready to acknowledge that it isn't always easy, and it definitely isn't what I planned, but to be calm and thankful regardless.  I feel so full with the things I have.  Those moments in life that just make me want to sit back and just rest.  While I completely understand that there could always be more to be thankful for (and probably wouldn't refuse it), I really am good with the things I have. 

We talked a lot about common lies that we accept so easily as truth last night in the connect group.  Just accepting any one's casual negative (or positive, really) word as truth over our lives.  So often, I find myself focusing on that one negative criticism of me or the girls in a sea of positivity.  I have been really thinking about the things that this study is doing for me and so many others today.  All of that talking has left me with a lot of over-thinking ., evaluating the ways I could improve, pray harder, write neater, be prepared a little more ahead of time.  I was really nervous last night, for some reason, even though I was really excited with the words I knew God had spoken into me.  I was a little bummed, because I felt so off my game last night.  However, sometimes I think we all need to be reminded that even when we have it all together, life is unpredictable, and not feeling totally like you are capable, confident and prepared will be okay, if you take the right steps.  I have found myself really talking to God about almost silly things lately, and yet, in those silly oh-my-gosh-did-I-really-just-pray-that? moments, I realize that need to communicate with him is exactly what he wants from me.  I have been really evaluating things in my life I need to let go of, and things I need to use for a different purpose.  In all of these things, I came to a few things in particular. 

I know that something I struggle with is acceptance, with a few different meanings.  I hate the fear of rejection to the point that I will do things a different way than I want for as long as necessary because I am afraid of being told no, or that I am wrong.  I just want to fit in, be that person that is okay, even when she isn't.  You know, hide those parts that aren't fit for anyone else, so that they don't realize how crazy I am?  Not only do I struggle with being accepted by others, I struggle with accepting things from others, whether it be help, support, love, and even simple advice from others around me.  I want these things, yet still struggle with being able to admit I need these things from others.  Totally sounds silly, and yet I struggle.

I was thinking (over-analyzing, really) a conversation I had, frustrated that I shared vulnerabilities in such an easy-going manner.  Honestly, I was really almost mad at myself that I had allowed someone in, seeing me for who I am, instead of who I should be and want to be.  This afternoon I came to the realization that it wasn't only weakness that was coming out of me, but embracing the weakness and accepting it is part of what makes me who I am.  Realizing that while I see it as a weakness, others around me may be seeing it as strength.  While it doesn't sound like much, it felt huge for me. 

Part of my struggles with acceptance come from carrying the shame and guilt of so many mistakes I have made.  While I am not ready to go into detail about the ins and outs of my mistakes, I had sudden clarity today.  I have viewed my divorce as a failure.  It was a marriage failed, the dreams and hopes I had within it failed, sheltering my kids from pain and difficulties, again failed.  I was really thinking about some things off and on today, just trying to process things.  I realized that while I have accepted where God wants me to be, am doing my best to walk it out the way I believe he is telling me to, and really am happy with where I am in my life, I haven't accepted that when he forgave me of my past mistakes, he forgave it all.  He doesn't expect me to go back and fix them, maybe try again - harder, longer and with success or perfection.

I have this vision in my head, well, sort of a cartoon vision, because it is definitely not a Bible vision...  :)  Anyway, God is sitting there, writing the story of my life out.  Seeing my creation, birth, childhood, placing dreams and desires in there, and seeing this marriage and this "failure to thrive" in it.  He has this book in his hand, with my name on it, and he is writing me into existence.  Placing situations in it, to strengthen his bond with me, challenging me to do the things he needs from me.  This "failure" that I see, he sees as the plan for my life.  Why is it that I keep thinking I have totally messed up his plan for me?  He knew I would do the best I could do to keep my marriage alive.  He knew I would reach out to him, ask him for guidance, and that one day, my story would be used for his glory. 

This morning, I casually (well, really not casually, because I explained myself thoroughly before I said it) explained that if I had made God choices for the last 12 or 13 years of my life, I could have done so much differently.  I could have been such a better person, I thought.  While I may not have the exact people I have in my life right now, I would have others, probably that might do the same things.  As the day has progressed, those words have pierced my heart and my mind and have really caused me to think about whether or not I really meant those words.  Sitting here, I realize those words really weren't true.  I have felt for so long like I needed to make these mistakes up to God, reconciling my errors with God, kinda like a do-over.  As I have really been thinking about these things, I realize, when God forgives me for something, it is wiped from the record.  Gone.  I am not saying it is okay to go do crazy stuff, but I am saying the mistake I made and asked forgiveness for?  Gone.  Like never happened kind of gone.  I have to realize the only thing I can do with my past, present and future is hand it all back to God and ask him to reveal day by day, the part of that story he wrote out in my life book for that one day.  My past will be used to touch people.  The healing from so many years of abuse will show others it can be done and strengthen them in their dark days.  My present situation raising three girls without a Daddy in their everyday life will be part of their testimony, instead of a hindrance to their lives.  My future?  It is going to be grand, not sure where it is going, how long it will take to get there, but I do know God is in control of it.  The girls' future?  I am sure it will be even better.  The past is the past.  God doesn't expect me to go back and fix something I messed up, because he has already forgiven and forgotten all about it. 

I am really really excited about knowing that I can walk confidently through my day, knowing yesterday is done, and tomorrow is a long way off.  I only have to place today in God's hands and know that he has it covered.  Praying God will daily remind me it is his confidence in me that makes me strong enough to do this. 

When I started this post, I really wanted to say how poorly I handled my mind today, by over-analyzing a simple conversation off and on throughout my day.  But the feeling I have right now is so not over-analyzed.  It is simple.  It is peaceful.  And, I am going to rest in the truth that I can embrace it.  I can embrace the past, just like I can embrace right now and tomorrow.  My past doesn't define who I am today, or it would be my present.  And, thank God, it isn't.  With all of that said and thought through, I am going to shut this thing off and go to sleep...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Struggling Slightly

Every great once in a while, complete sadness overtakes me.  Sometimes, it comes with a reason.  Other times, it just hits me out of the blue.  My moments of sadness over the last few weeks have all come with a reason, forcing me to constantly evaluate where I am, what I am doing, and how I have to let go and let God.  The girls were gone, the anniversary of death, and now, this.  While it really isn't a reason to be sad, I am sad.  I find myself still mourning what could have been.  I know that I have done what is best.  I know I have done exactly what God had planned for me, but sometimes, the sadness creeps in.  In this part of my life, the sadness is rarely not accompanied by anger.  And, not towards who you would expect, but towards the one who didn't answer my prayers like I wanted.  Luckily, I can typically pick up this amazingly hot pink book of mine and put myself back into the right frame of mind. While I was praying out my feelings last night, I remembered a verse (Isaiah 54:10) I had glanced at while preparing for my connect group.  It says, "My love won't walk away from you, my covenant commitment of peace will not fall apart.  The God who has compassion on you says so."  I'm telling you, I love the book of Isaiah.   It reminded me that even in my anger and frustration that God didn't do what I wanted, he is still there, listening, planning and preparing me for something far greater than my plans could have ever been.

The girls slept in yesterday.  Like, out slept me.  It was almost 11:00 before I finally decided it was time for them to be up and start the day.  I woke up Cass, who woke up crying, asking for me.  Then, as her eyes opened and she realized she was home, she stopped crying.  It literally broke my heart.  I spoke some gentle words to her, and she smiled, a little sad, and whispered the sentence that ripped my heart out of my chest.  She said, "Mommy, I wish I didn't have a Daddy so I wouldn't ever have to go away again."  I know she wasn't speaking out of anger or dislike, but because she didn't want to be gone for so long.  I genuinely believe it wasn't because she doesn't love her Dad or want to see him.  I know this was no reflection of the love or care shown to her while she was away, either.  But, it still broke my heart.  I never planned for this to happen, and struggle when I see the girls' pains.  I want to fix it all, wipe away their tears, help them realize that God has an amazing plan for us, that will leave us all happy, healthy, and alive.  Not in daily fear, constant worry, and stressed out to the breaking point. 

I wanted to sit down, write this out and process it yesterday.  Today, I am thankful I didn't, because it has given me a little bit of time to think about what she said and how I need to help her through this.  A year ago, that sentence would have made me happy.  It would have confirmed that I was doing the right thing.  I know that emotion wouldn't have been healthy for me or the girls, because it would have been twisted and so not right.  I am thankful for different emotions, but wish I could feel like they were healthy normal thoughts.  I know I have made progress, and I know what she said wasn't exactly what she meant.  Today, though, I struggle with a little girl who doesn't want to go away this weekend.  Granted, cousins are coming that she hasn't seen in a while and she is excited about it.  I am sure this is not reflecting any emotions towards her Dad.  I know it is because of her excitement about seeing family.  So, I struggle with two different parts of my brain.  You know the little angel sitting on one shoulder and the little devil sitting on the other side?  That is pretty much how I feel.  I am thankful she knows this is a safe place, and she can tell me what she is thinking.  On the other hand, the girls' thoughts sometimes hurt so bad.  This is not what I planned when I said, "I do" almost 9 years ago.  I get that little angel that is thankful for safety, love and protection.  Then, the other side starts to creep in on my thoughts, and pulls the anger and frustration out of me.  Reminds me that I am with them on a daily basis, and tells me that I can feel better than the other party.  Luckily, the angel side is winning, and I know feeling better than someone else is not the right mind set, nor is it accurate.  Christ died for everyone, and loves each of us the same, regardless of what we are doing in our lives. 

However, today I find myself sitting back and remembering.  Thinking about the unexpected turns that started so many years ago.  I sit here and realize I am more than a little frustrated because I prayed long and hard for miracles to take place in his heart and mine.  I prayed that the drinking would stop, and we would become a priority in his life again.  I prayed that I would have the patience to endure whatever I had to endure so our family could be whole.  And, instead of getting what I prayed for, I get what God intended.  I know God sees the whole picture.  I get it.  And, luckily, I can honestly say I trust He has our prosperity in mind.  I know that when it is his time, he will do exactly as he promised.  That picture I have in my head is going to happen.  Just not like I had planned. 

I learned something when the girls returned home.  Something I am so incredibly happy about.  I have been replaced.  And, truly, I am happy about it.  I am so thankful that he can move on and celebrate life with someone else.  I feel no anger or pain from this, I am genuinely happy for him.  I honestly felt relief.  No sudden pangs of jealousy or anger.  And, that shows such progress for me.  As bad as this may sound, I am just so thankful that it isn't me.  Again, God always knows what he is doing.  While I struggle with the why's and how come's and frustrations, I know that he is really doing something big for me, without having to be "with" someone to do it.  I don't need someone for my prosperity.  I don't need someone to feel worth something.  I don't need someone to make me happy.  It is a great feeling.  One that is difficult to accept and embrace, but I am doing it. 

I was wasting time on Pinterest last night, and found this saying, and it really helped me.  Gonna post it, and hope it helps someone else, too.... 

Monday, July 9, 2012

So ironic...

Ever hear that song "Ironic" by Alanis Morissette?  Though not what I listen to often now, I used to really love her.  She had this way of being so incredibly truthful, and yet putting it all into music that flows.  Tonight, after the girls had been home, the song started to go through my mind.  Like I shoved the CD in and hit repeat.  Over and over it went.  And, my life seems to be the best example. 

I will admit to not being in the most incredible mood.  I am beyond overjoyed the girls are home.  I am beyond thankful they were protected, safe, fed and somewhat clean when they came home.  God is incredibly good to me.  I know that He has insanely incredibly plans for my life.  I just need to remind myself of this over and over.

Tonight, I am fighting so many emotions.  Relief, my babies are home.  Sadness, because my life is nothing like I planned it.  Jealous, because life is just stinky sometimes.  Excited, because I get to see family I haven't seen in a while.  Angry, because life is twisted.  So many things going around in my head. 

I am seriously trying to not allow any of these feelings to overshadow that the girls are home for a few days.  I long to just sit and do nothing with them for a while.  And, tonight, we pretty much did just that.  The girls soaked it up.  I had all of them curled up on me tonight and so enjoyed my quiet calm moments with them.  It was so nice to just be able to hold them and not have to sit and know they weren't home. 

I feel like there are so many things I need to be doing instead of writing about irony and how it keeps sneaking up in my life.  Reminding me that seeing the irony in different areas of my life isn't helping, but instead making me feel a little spiteful.  I hate that, and want it gone. 

Thinking that the studying I need to be doing for my connect group would seriously help.  Might just go do that instead of complain about things I have no business complaining about.  Guess I am done with my rant...  :)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hello, My Name Is...

So last week, I taught my first connect group.  It was completely a success, no thanks to myself.  God was so totally all up in my space.  :)  For that, I am so incredibly thankful.  And, the things that I talked to the ladies about have been on my heart all week long.  Was having a little bit of a moment (can you still call it a moment if it lasts three days???), and finally came to my Bible.  I had forgotten about all the things I quickly shoved inside it at the end of our meeting (and, yes, I will admit to not opening my favorite version in a week, sadly), and they all fell out this morning.  While I rearranged the items for a better picture, this is basically what I got...

Last week, I was a little bummed that so many ladies were unable to be there, but I knew that I had prayed that the exact people that needed what I was talking about would be there.  I shared my whole story, which I have never done to a room full of women.  Scary, but so incredibly freeing.  Anyway, because ladies were unable to be there, I had some extra things, and so needed the encouragement this morning. 

I am so incredibly blue today.  First and heaviest on my mind, is my girls.  I literally am aching to just hold them.  While I work part-time during the school year, I am a stay-at-home mom during the summer.  I was able to take a week off of school to take a breath, and it is this week.  So, I feel a little out of place.  No kids.  No work.  No school.  No nursery at church.  I have enjoyed quite a bit of down time, but I am over it.  Like totally over it.  I want noise.  I want fights.  I want little arms around my neck.  I want the ability to know what the girls are doing, and that they are happy.  I have tried to stay as busy as I can.  It has helped, but there are still these day to day moments when I am not fighting with Sara that her outfit doesn't match, or telling Cassie she can't watch one more episode of Team Umizoomi.  Apparently, I was made to be a Mom, and without the kids, I am just really not in my happy place.  I am sure they are fine, but after talking to them, I just don't feel it.  But, I am reminding myself, in Christ, I am strong and capable, and I can do this.  I am 70% finished.  I have more behind me than in front of me.  And, sadly, I will not call them again.  I won't do it to him, I won't do it to them, and most selfishly, I won't do it to me. 

Secondly, I keep thinking about the man who showed me what real love is really all about.  Almost to the minute, we lost him 6 years ago.  I get so sad to think about the grand kids who will never know him.  However, it leaves me with the enormous responsibility to teach them his legacy.  Love, despite not feeling loved in return.  Be kind, even when you want to get angry.  Eat ice cream before dinner, just because.  Cookies are always meant to be shared.  And, there is never a situation you can't laugh yourself out of.  As a child/teen I didn't realize how important those moments with him would be, and I regret the things I said and the ways I treated him.  There is literally nothing bad that he could have taught them.  Even the time he played baseball with Liz's boys inside the house, breaking a lamp, wasn't a bad thing.  He was the most kind-hearted person I will ever meet, and I am so thankful that he stepped in when he didn't have to.

I know that I will get through the day, and will most likely just need to carry a box of Kleenex around with me, but it is tough today.  Parts of me really just want to go back to bed, sleep for a bit, and start over.  And I might.  Probably won't, but the option is there.  I am going to jump back into getting ready for next week's class, which is going to be absolutely amazing.  I am so excited about it.  I should probably just focus all of my energy on it, instead of allowing my thoughts to run wild today.  At some point, I know I will have some powerful words of wisdom from all of this.  Today, I am just going to survive.  And, really, there is nothing wrong with that.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

So much...

Tonight, I have so many insane things going around in my head.  First, Happy Fourth of July!!!  :)  I have had a nice relaxing day, including not one, but two delightful trips to Kroger.  I declared last month that I would never set foot in Kroger on the first Wednesday of the month ever again.  And I meant it.  What do you know?  Twice in the same day.  On the first Wednesday of the month.  Yup.  It should have been declared a national disaster area.  Insanity!!!  I was able to get in and out relatively quickly, after a massive diversion occurred in the store.  I was standing in the middle of the produce section, listening to the announcement of freebies at the end of aisle two.  I stood there, torn between the lure of free stuff and getting in and out really fast.  Free stuff quickly lost.  It was packed in there!  Made some incredibly yummy food, and thoroughly enjoyed church tonight.  I love the relation of Independence Day to spirituality.  Freedom is freedom is freedom.  And, really, who doesn't love some freedom? 

My day has been a little down, though.  I have really missed the girls.  This is the first big holiday I have never spent a single second with them.  I have really missed them.  I go from wishing I could see their expressions at the fireworks, to praying someone is covering Jess' ears (the noise terrifies her), to just wishing they were home already.  Today is Wednesday, and I am halfway there.  I so totally just sounded like a therapy group...  My name is Cil, and I have gone five days without my kids...  ;)  I am trying to remember the positive side, but am really struggling.  I just miss them.  Plain and simple.  I am trying to stay busy, but after five days of not being a mom, no amount of busy is going to make me remember that I should have arguing, crying, and never more than 5 hours of sleep in a night.  As crazy as it sounds, I really miss it.  This is a horrible helpless feeling, and I despise feeling like this. 

I had fully intended on running errands, going on shopping sprees, waking up at dawn and running every day, and you know, I just don't feel it.  I am trying to remember to stay upbeat and thankful for the fast break, but, again, I am just ready to have the girls home.  Like, now. 

I am going to dive into the Amazing study stuff again on Friday, so hopefully then I can bring an upbeat passionate post about how awesome God is.  By the way, I still know he is awesome, even when I am a little down.  And, for the first time in a long time, I am not even angry that his fingers didn't snap a different story into existence.  I trust Him completely to give me strength, as well as cover the girls.  I don't want anyone to think that just because I am down means I am doubting His plan, because I'm not.  :)