Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately. And trying to listen to everyone, and yet really no one at all. And, if you think this seems contradictory, just wait. It will only get worse.

I saw recently something that said "Easy really isn't a four-letter word." At the time, I laughed, thinking how strange the sign was worded. Easy will always be a four-letter word. Despite what our eyes or ears may perceive about easy, you will never be able to spell it differently.

Someone made an off-handed comment to me about a certain situation being easy for me. And, it hit me hard. It stung, like I had literally been slapped. It wasn't intended this way, but it still stung. And, someone else made the comment to me that I am impossible to make happy. Again, it wasn't intended to sting, but it still stung.  My heart knows none of this was said to attack me.  My heart was a little stunned at the honesty about the statements, but made me think.  And, I am going to be honest, I am gonna be blunt.  I am going to pour my heart out.  I am not angry.  I am not bashing anyone, just trying to process. 

Easy seems so simple.  Easy.  Uncomplicated.  Stress-free.  Simple.  The thought that from the outside, my life looks easy.  I really wanted to shout from the roof, really???  This season of my life looks easy?  I didn’t.  I didn’t want to bring attention to the struggles I am going through.  And, then, I thought, you know, people don’t see it because I do not allow it.  I want them all to think I have it together, that I am walking this life with ease.  While it hurt like something else because of the way I handle my thoughts, it probably was intended as a compliment. 

As I have said before, I love words and their meanings. Easy means: 1) not hard or difficult; requiring no great labor or effort; 2) free from pain, discomfort, worry, or care; and the list goes on. And, again, the sting still smarts. I feel like at this point in life, I am struggling to keep my head about water. I daily quote Isaiah 43:2-4. I tell myself I cannot be afraid, God has called my name, and is holding my hand. I am his, and he is with me. Regardless of how high the waters may seem, I will not drown. When my boat starts to rock with adversity, it will not sink. These rough waters are nothing, because God is going to be with me, strengthening every move I make. Even when I can’t see the road in front of me, the path I am going to take, it will not be a dead end. He knows exactly where I am going, because He has already planned out my next step. I am so valued to him, he would give up everything to have me. He will not leave me. Ever. Regardless of who or what I am, where I have been or what I keep doing. I am His.

So, in the middle of the night, when I am trying to soothe away nightmares of three precious babies, he is there. When three little girls want to sleep with the light on for a week after they get home, it is okay. He is cradling their heads in his lap. When they are out of my physical reach, and battling things I will never know about, he is right there with them, surrounding them with his strength and his shield. How do I know this? How can I walk this out? His word says it, I read it, and I am beating it into my brain. Easy?  Uncomplicated?  Stress-free? Simple?  Not one bit. But, baby step by baby step, it is happening.

When my girls leave, I pray. When I go to bed and they aren’t home, I pray. When something silly pops into my head and they aren’t with me, I pray. It seems like that is all I do when they aren’t home. And, I have little to no fear about what they are doing or if they are safe. However, I do it quietly. Sometimes it is a whispered ten second prayer with them, and other times, I wait until they are gone before praying. This last Friday night, I felt the urge to take them all into my arms (and what an armful!) and pray with them. And, I am so thankful I did. I prayed God’s love and protection around them. I thanked God for His promise never to leave us, reminding each of us girls how we have nothing to fear, that we are to be strong and brave, because God is with us. I took longer than normal, and was surprised when not a single child fidgeted or tried to hurry me. Right before they left, Sara thanked me for praying so long with them. While part of my struggle started right after they left, I prayed, made my heart right and left the girls right there, safe in God’s hands.

This week has been rough. And, we are only on Wednesday. Not sure the events of the weekend, but the girls are not adjusting well. All three had terrible nightmares Sunday night. Jess has cried every single night before bed. Cassie has asked to sleep with the light on. My heart is breaking at the thought of the demons they are battling in their heads. And, easy? This friends, is worse than the entire process of divorce. I want to change it. I want to fix it. I want to fight their battles for them. I can’t. Not because I am not capable, not because I am a failure. But because it isn’t my battle to fight. God has a plan for them, just like he has a plan for me. I have to trust him with them, regardless of how much I want to take their battle and make it mine.

What may seem easy, uncomplicated, stress-free, without any labor, is actually me fighting my hardest, holding it all in, feeling the weight of so much weighing me down. Afraid to say what my mind is thinking. Afraid to vent, because I do not want fear to come in. I do not want to let bitterness overtake me. I do not want fear to replace whatever joy or hope I have. I know God is going to use every single detail of my life (and the girls’, too) and use them all for good. Because that is how big my God is. He is able to do above all. Not only is he able to, but he is in the process of.

Bringing me to my second issue at stake, I realize I am complaining, criticizing and trying to control so many other things around me. Not because I really think there is anything wrong, but because everything else seems so out of control. And, for that, I really am sorry. I hate to think that in my moment of pain, I am hurting those around me. It seems so selfish. And, I hate it. I don’t want to be seen as miserable or unhappy. And, really I am not. But the truth of the matter is, when my kids are suffering, there isn’t much that will make me happy. It is hard to fight the battle going on in my mind, and even worse to do so when I am tired and trying so hard to keep smiling through it all.

If my walk seems easy, it isn’t because it actually is. If it seems as though I have this single mom thing nailed and am succeeding, it isn’t because I am. It is because I am too tired of the fight to admit there is one. It is because I am trying so hard to keep anyone else from knowing what the storm looks like from my standpoint. While I am glad it appears as though I am floating on air, but in reality, I am on the verge of tears every time I turn around. Not sure really what else to say. My heart feels raw. 

Now that I have laid it all out, I am gonna think about this thing Sara and I have done every morning this week.  It starts with me rolling outta bed a little early and starting a pot of coffee.  It ends with Sara, ready for the day, anxious to share a cup of coffee (mostly cream, in reality) with her Momma.  Not because this season is easy, but because we so desperately need each other through it.  And, in all honestly, I do not want to allow anything to stop that.  No, let me rephrase that.  I will not let anything stop it.  Even if it means I get up early, and lose a little more sleep, I have finally found something that connects us together, makes her feel special, and helps us both wake up.  It makes her happy to get out of bed, and it makes me feel like an amazing Momma.

After I think about those incredible moments, I'm gonna remind myself of a second sweetheart of a girl that I fought for 13 long weeks, on my back the entire time, to stay inside of me, terrified she would make her way into the world too soon.  I think about the colic she and I fought through, praying it would end before she turned one and I would survive (seriously, I prayed this...).  I think about her dreams of being a real cowgirl one day, her positive outlook on everything, and her constant reminder to "Bee strong."  Lol, while flapping like a bumblebee.  You wanna see it? Click here. She is one of the brightest rays of sunshine in my whole world.  Love this girl to pieces.

Then, I move on to this face.  And I just know that God is up there laughing with me.  I have a feeling this little surprise baby was nothing more than a miracle.  While so many times, I find myself near tears and exhaustion with the trouble she has created, I also find myself laughing in spite of the mess and ensuing chaos.  She is a hoot.  A comedian at heart, a monkey with no fear of falling, and one of the most compassionate little girls ever.  She caused me so much heartache and stress, and while I wish I could have been different, I have learned that she really is a God sent miracle.  Even if only for moments like right now when I need to laugh instead of cry.  Like this second right now, knowing I only have to look as far as this picture for a laugh. 

I know I am blessed beyond measure.  I know that I am far better now than I was a year or two ago.  And, I know in another year, this season will seem like nothing.  I can do this, because the weakness I feel right now is going to be turned into God-strength.  And nothing can beat that.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday, Monday... :)

I don't even know what to say or how to say what I am feeling right now.  I am praying that as I start to write, my feelings and thoughts will pour from me and I will get some relief from silly life battles. 

While we had a good week last week, it was long.  Routine is still trying to be put back together; girls are cranky; Momma a little stressed.  It is weeks like this that I tend to look backward and wish this were that and that were this.  Sometimes, it is easier to plug in what I have learned into what should've been, but even rewinding and doing it over, I still wouldn't come out ahead. 

The girls came home from their weekend away last night.  Not sure what took place over the weekend, or what the difference was, but none of us slept last night.  Laying in bed, sandwiched between a few of my favorite girls, I lay wide awake wondering why they were so afraid to sleep.  Nightmares started the night out, then aches and pains, then being scared of the dark, and a variety of other things.  They were restless and anxious.  I wanted to fix it and couldn't do a single thing to help.

And, I learned something.  I can't change it.  I can't even learn how to handle it.  I just know God isn't going to let me go down.  I am tired and weepy today, from a nasty allergy attack and little sleep, it will be a miracle if I make it through the day without crying.  And yet, I know these stronger than me hands are going to hold me up, regardless of what comes my way.  I can do this, I will do this, and I will have the strength to do it well.  These things, I completely know and believe.

Walking it out on days like this is a totally different story though.  I want to give up.  I want to walk away, admit defeat and forget about all of those amazing promises I have been given.  I want to pour all of my hope and trust into something I can see and feel, and still, I know that isn't the right answer either.  Something I can see and feel is bound to let me down and disappoint eventually.  I know turning around, giving up, throwing in the towel, not finishing this thing would mean this battle would be for nothing.  And, I don't want it to be for nothing. 

Not sure what else to say.  I am not turning around, or letting all of my experiences stop me from getting to my future.  I know that God does have a plan, and luckily, I can't see it.  I am sure if I could, the final destination would just stress me out further.  While it is difficult, I know that God has me and the girls taken care of.  I know that I am ready to quit waiting and start moving, but it is a process, and as I was reminded over the weekend, waiting is an action, too.  :) 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Emotions Far Beyond Words

I was complimented by my instructor today.  She expressed to me that I am a gifted writer.  Coming from a college professor that I struggled with the entire course, this felt like the most amazing compliment ever.  And, tonight, I have nothing to even begin to describe how in awe and amazingly thankful I am feeling.  I feel like emotion is pouring out over the top of me, and I just can't even begin to describe why I should be allowed such an incredible few days.  At a church function tonight, I was reminded how much growing I still have to do.  Even with the leaps and bounds I am making, there is room for so much more. 

I have about five different instances from the last few days where I have felt so overwhelmed.  Funny thing is, one was purely a negative.   The other four were totally positive.  I read somewhere that it takes four positive things to outweigh the hurt/pain/frustration of one negative thing.  Well, let me just say my four positive things far outweighed my one negative.  Being that it occurred first, I am gonna talk about it, before showing how amazing God can take that one negative thing and turn it for good.  :)

Thursday night, I received an e-mail from my instructor explaining that she never received my final paper.  I turned it in at 10:52 on Monday night, with a little over an hour to spare (and for me, that is a lifetime!).  I was blown away by the thought that it had never been turned in.  Turns out, a different assignment got submitted twice.  I don't know if it was a computer glitch or a user error, but she was going to let me turn it in, with a 30% reduction because of how late it was.  She could have told me it was a zero and moved on.  While I was thankful for the opportunity to turn it in, I was beyond stressed about what it was going to do to my GPA, scholarships and grants.  In my almost panic attack state, I called a friend.  I was kindly told to calm down and just email her.  Explain my circumstances, let her check me out and realize this isn't something that has ever happened.  Friday morning,  I did just that.  And, as of first thing this morning, hadn't heard back.  I felt really silly, like I was groveling for her help, and that it was possible it wouldn't even do any good.  However, I have been praying for 2 days for God's favor in the situation, as well as the assurance he had it all under control, even if I lost it all. 

Friday, I packed the girls and I up to go camping.  This was our first camping trip solo, and it really wasn't solo.  We went with a group of people from church, and it was an amazing trip.  Friday was a struggle, as it was a little difficult to get it all together and still have sanity.  I was a little, no I was a lot, nervous about how the girls would do, whether or not they would behave, and how I would handle the stress.  Let me just brag on my kiddos - they rocked.  They are amazing.  And, we will be camping again, hopefully soon.  Anyway, I arrive at the site with the rest of the group, and within 30 seconds, have someone (a man, to be particular) offer his help.  Not with the attitude of, you are a girl, and you are not capable, but please let me help you.  It was incredibly difficult to admit that help wouldn't be a bad thing.  And, my ice chest was fairly heavy.  :)  He then went on to help me get my tent set up, and did so without one single complaint.  And, let me just say this: this man is in no way related to me, nor are we dating, nor did he have to help me.  All of this totally blew my mind.  Within a few minutes of the tent being up, another man offered help with mattresses.  I had more men helping me through the night than I ever could have dreamed of.  For someone who hasn't had the best experiences with men, let me just say, this beyond rocked my world.  It took me forever to settle down that night, as I was so overwhelmed by their cheerfulness that I was there.  No one ever made any negative comment about the extra burden I was putting on them, and even now, thinking about it makes me tear up.  We canoed for quite a bit Saturday, and came back to the site tired.  We had all been in the sun, and while no one complained, you could tell everyone was ready to be breaking down campsites and getting everything taken care of so we could be on our way home.  I started to take apart my site, which I am quite capable of by the way, and was offered help by a few people.  I really felt like I had used up all the help they could have possibly wanted to give, and told each of them I was good.  I was getting stuff done inside the tent and realized that I had a crowd watching, waiting for me to accept their help.  Not because I wasn't capable, but because they wanted to help.  I delegated a few tasks, then I started to load up my car, only to return to a tent that had been fully broken down.  This may not sound like much, but it hit me hard.  Men are capable of helping without complaining about it.  Men are capable of helping even when there will be no compensation from it.  Men aren't all jerks.  While I knew this stuff deep down, I haven't experienced it for so long.  I cried.  A lot.  Even now, I want to sit down and cry.  Not because I feel bad, but because allowing people in felt good.  These walls don't have to be up all the time.  Words just don't even do any of this justice.  I know it sounds silly.  It has just been something I have struggled with.

This morning, after fighting with Jessie all night, I got out of bed to go to church.  Was sad and frustrated by the same clothes I have had for years hanging in my closet.  However, gratitude crept in, because I realized the oldest were only a few years old, and they were all wearable, also reminding myself fall would be here soon, and with it, clothes I haven't worn in a while.  I realized how blessed I was by several pairs of jeans, reliable shirts, and few newer dresses that I bought at Easter.  I remember talking to God while I was getting dressed, more out of silliness than out of seriousness.  My prayer was that while I was thankful, a few new things would be incredible.  I went to church, not thrilled with what I had on, but it was clothes.  :)  Survived church with a cranky (although quieter than her 7-year-old big sister) 2-year-old who wouldn't stay in the nursery, only to be pulled aside after service.  I'm gonna go on a side note here, because the way God works sometimes just throws me. 

Side note: During my connect group, I shared with the group the concept of the "it" girl.  You know, the one who has it all together.  Cute hair, cute clothes, cute kids, cute shoes, just all of it.  An amazing heart, a Godly husband who leads, and not afraid to obey wherever God tells her to go.  Yeah, I named someone who fit that description in my head.  I told the group who my "it" girl was.  The lady that I wanted to be when I grew up.  And, she totally fits the criteria.  She is an amazing mighty woman of God. 

Anyway, back to my story, my "it" girl walked up to me and asked if I would want any of her clothes.  She said she had quite a bit of stuff still with tags on that she felt I needed, and would I be willing to take them?  First, I wanted to cry and run away.  Then, I almost laughed.  God placed the exact woman who is so incredibly beautiful and "together" in a situation where I was going to receive part of her wardrobe???  God has a sense of humor.  I accepted her help, knowing that God had heard me.  He heard something that was bothering me, and had just the remedy to fix it.  As she told me later, how can someone refuse the answer to their prayer?  Well, let me just say, she brought me that bag of clothes tonight.  And, words cannot even say how much of a blessing I received.  I am so thankful that my pride didn't get in my way, and so thankful that God worked in both of us today.  It took God to urge her to give, and it took God to help me receive.  These were clothes I am sure she could've worn.  My emotions are just about all spent.  I have  honestly never been so thankful in my life.  When I get it all together and hung up, my closet will be my happy place.  :) 

Lastly, I received a course notification grade in my email today.  I was slightly nervous, because I wasn't sure what it was going to be.  It was one of those moments when my life would either remain blessed, or it would be a little more difficult.  When I opened the grade, I was stunned to realize it was a 97%.  While I won't reveal all the contents of the feedback and message back, I will say this.  I almost walked away.  I almost didn't fight.  I almost said, forget it, it isn't worth the trouble and stress.  One person reminded me how long and how hard my journey had been, and that to walk away would be throwing all of that away.  When I decided to write that email, it was because one person told me to.  This is another one of those moments when I know I didn't deserve the credit for my grade.  If it had been me and me alone, I would've received a 67%.  That, my friends, is an F.  Between encouragement, a little bit of pushing, and a lot of prayer, what I expected to be bad, was really for good.

I will not say I have everything figured out.  However, I will say this, learning to accept another's kindness isn't about not being capable, or being a failure.  It's about accepting help.  No one person can do life alone.  We were all put here to love others, help them through difficult moments and do life together.  And, funny thing is, I am in a single state.  I should be alone.  And I'm not.  My circle may be small, but it is composed of more than just me.  I am not alone.  And I am so overwhelmed with thankfulness tonight. 

I watched Sara try on one outfit after another this morning.  She was thoroughly just enjoying being a girl, and putting new outfits together, seeing how each one fit.  This Momma is pretty ready to go do the same exact thing...  :) 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What would you do if...?

So, I sit here in the midst of the most beautiful chaos ever.  The girls are happily (quite loudly, but...) playing dollhouse in front of me.  They are chattering, imagining, dreaming.  And, this is my happy place.  I love to watch them dream.  I love to watch them play, knowing that nothing could steal their joy.  I love this part of being a mom.  Knowing that dinner hasn't even been started, homework still needs to be done, and my camping to-do list is growing by the second, and yet just knowing the girls are happy.  Nothing can stop their dreams, change their fantasies, or bring them down.  I sit here and wonder to myself, what would I do if...  What would I do if I knew I would succeed?  What would I say if I knew I would be accepted?  Would I share my heart if I knew it wouldn't be broken?  What things would I change if I knew it would turn out okay?  What chances would I take if I knew failure was not an option?  What if???  I am sure these are all questions we ask ourselves at various points in our lives.  It is fun to plan.  It is fun to dream, to pretend things aren't really as they seem.  Eventually, though, reality comes crashing in and our hopes and dreams get washed back out to sea.  Then what? 

Do we dare to dream bigger? Or do we sit back in sorrow?  Do we trust that God is truly holding us or do we decide our way is better?  If I knew my heart's desire would be fulfilled, would I have the courage to ask for it?  So many places God tells us to trust him.  He tells us our desires are important to him.  And then we sit around, bumming that our dreams, our visions, are just too big for God.  I am so guilty of longing for things, but knowing my request is selfish.  So I don't ask.  And why?  Am I scared that God will show up, prove he hears me and grant my request?  Or am I too afraid to take the first step?  To all of that, my answer is yes. I am too scared that God will move in massive ways and that my life will change in ways I could only dream of.  I long for things to be just slightly different than they are now, but what if I knew they would turn out for the better?  Would I take that step? 

This is a totally silly thought, but I think that it proves my point well.  Thousands upon thousands of people know they could win millions through the lottery.  A simple act of walking into a gas station, paying a small fee, and waiting for the numbers to be drawn could change any person's life.  But, in order to win, you must play.  How often do we want something, but feel like we aren't worthy or deserving?  How often do we say this would be nice or that would be great or I really really want this to happen to our friends, but never make our needs or wants known to God?  If we knew he would answer us the way we wanted, would we still hesitate?

I have been struggling with something personal for months upon months.  Still struggling.  Still personal.  And, no, this is not where I divulge the information and say God miraculously answered my prayers.  But, if I knew God was up there working on it right now, would I be praying differently?  Thanking him more often?  As much as I hate to say it, yeah, I would.  I would be excited.  I would be more willing to patiently wait.  But, as many understand who have experienced waiting times, the longer the wait, the more discouraged you grow.  And, when you do not keep constant communication lines open between yourself and God, it is easy to get angry, bitter, and incredibly frustrated.  It is so easy to compare your deeds with anothers and wonder why God chose to bless them with the answer to your prayers instead of you

And, yet, God didn't call them to live my life.  He called me to my life.  He didn't call them to do the things I have been told to do.  He placed me in specific circumstances so that I could do very specific things.  Am I going to live life for me, or am I going to live life for him?  What would I do if I knew what tomorrow would hold?  What am I going to choose to do with life?  Do I choose to take a few steps in obedience or get frustrated that he won't do it all for me?  Am I thankful for the things I know he is doing behind the scenes, or impatiently tapping my foot because they aren't happening today? 

If I knew I would be accepted, I would step out.  I would speak the things on my mind and in my heart.  If I knew that good things would come of a risky option, the risk would've already been taken.  However, I am learning that I must wait until God says go.  When he says it's time to move, I'd better get to  moving.  And not one second sooner.  I don't know if any of this even makes sense to anyone else but me.  As if it isn't obvious, I have some choices to make.  Choices I am ready to know the answers for.  I keep being reminded about the woman in the Bible with the issue of blood. For ten years, she was cut off from civilization because she was unclean.  She risked her life, just to touch the hem of Jesus' robe.  And Jesus said to her, "Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you're healed and whole."  Is this story so in my face because I am wishing I had the courage to take a risk, or because it is time for me to just step out?  Luke 19 talks about taking chances, too.  Jesus is telling his disciples a story of a handful of men each being given a sum of money, and that they were to invest it however they chose.  All but one invested the money in some way, doing their best with what they were given.  The one who chose to sit and do nothing was called a fool.  In the end, Jesus says something about risking it all and getting more than you ever dreamed of.  Play it safe and get nothing but what you started with. 

So, what would you risk if you knew nothing could stop you from reaching your dreams?  What would you pray for if you knew God was sitting there just waiting for you to ask him and really believe he will do it? 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Coincidental? I think not!

Ever have one of those weeks where you feel like you are totally in the twilight zone?  Well, that has been the last few days.  I last wrote about struggling with the balance between serving a ministry where I am needed and called versus serving areas where I just know there is a vacant spot to fill.  I have a tendency to just do whatever needs to be done when I am capable of doing it. 

Gonna pause for just a few minutes, because I have so much to tie together.  I worked on connect group stuff all day Friday.  It was exactly what I needed.  I love the simple reminders that God is so in control and will provide exactly what I need in the timing that I need it. 

Our church has recently started a single mom ministry (I know I have mentioned it before, but it is absolutely amazing, and if you have not seen it, I am urging you to check it out here).  I have hesitated to share the way I feel about this, because I am terrified of making someone believe that I am not thankful, because that is certainly not the case.  But, it is a difficult place to be in, knowing that so many people are doing something specifically for you (and apparently 74 other moms, but that isn't always the way it feels), and that the task they were given was very difficult work.  While I was at work Thursday, I could hear the hustle and bustle of so many people working to help me provide my girls with school clothes.  It was so incredibly overwhelming that so many people were willing to take time out of their day to do an act of service like this one.  I really struggled with accepting help.  I hate to be dependent or needy of someone else.  I hate asking for help, and very rarely do it.  I don't like to tell someone I can't do something (which is most of the reason I don't usually tell someone no).  All of this just led to an overly emotional me. 

While preparing for my connect group (can't believe it was the last meet!), I realized the things I was struggling with were exactly the topics we were getting ready to cover at the session.  Things like, how do I figure out which things God wants me directly to do, and which things does he want me to let someone else do?  Do I receive help easily?  How are ways I can accept the help of others?  Why do I view receiving help as a weakness, and why does this bother me?  It was beyond coincidental that I had needed exactly what the book reminded me of. 

I was able to pick up some clothes for the girls right before my group was going to start.  And, while the volunteers were amazing, the selection was overwhelming, and I got exactly what I needed for the girls, I really just wanted to get out of there.  Again, I hate asking for help, I hate feeling like I am not capable of providing and have to depend on someone else.  It was definitely a great, yet difficult, place to be.  However, it was incredible to just be served.  No judging, no criticizing, just love.  And it was exactly what I needed. 

I left for connect group and shared slightly with them the realization of knowing things were going to have to be different.  Knowing that God was releasing me from certain obligations and that obedience was key.  While I am serving in many places, how many am I doing that job well in?  How many of those drain me completely, and which ones leave me ready to do great things?  I totally understand that there will be times when what God asks me to do will not be enjoyable, but some of this stuff can easily be done by someone more capable of serving in that area than me.  Light bulbs went on a lot for me this weekend. 

My receiving is someone else's blessing.  And, I have to accept this might just be the job they were told to do well.  Who am I to take that from them?  My prayers were being answered, just not in the way I thought they would be.  God never promised I would love the way he chose to provide for me, just that he would always provide.  And, he did.  He really, really did.
Between Saturday morning and today (Wednesday), I have had four different people plus an entire sermon tell me that doing everything isn't what God asked me to do.  My job is only doing what He wants me to do.  Just that he wants me to be obedient in what he has asked, and that I do it well.  And, I am trying.  Really, really trying.

On another note, I am so incredibly pumped.  I woke up this morning, knowing I had to run with the girls and was not a happy person.  As a matter of fact, I had convinced myself that I wasn't going to run.  I couldn't find my running skirt, then I couldn't get the stroller tires filled back up (they have slow leaks of some sort?), and then after struggling, the stupid thing didn't want to fit in its normal spot in the car.  By this point, I wanted to just lay it all aside and give up.  I had a few minutes, came back in the house to hurry Sara along and wanted to read a blog I follow for some encouragement.  Encouragement I got.  Her post was titled Embrace Fear (you are more than welcome to read it here).  While my fear wasn't similar to what she was facing, I still feared a bad run, and really would rather have no run than a bad run.  Needless to say, after reading that she pushed three kids for 6 miles, with no mile longer than 9 1/2 minutes, I felt ready.  So, I ran this morning, with two girlies in tow.  Started at Sonic, ran two a little past 2.0 miles, turned around and ran back.  What made my day was that I ran well.  The first 2.75  miles were run in 29 minutes or so, and then we totally conquered monster hill.  And, when I say I was victorious, I will explain myself...  I made it to the top without forcing kids out of the stroller and without having to ask someone help me to the top.  :)  I feel on top of it right now.  Totally on top of it.  I can do this, and I can do this well.  Finished my run strong with a 7:50something pace.  And two girlies.  Pretty happy with setting my mind to do something and do it well.  Cassie is so excited.  She wants to know when she gets to run with me again, and can it please, please, puh-lease be soon?  She has always been my cheerleader, and I love knowing that to her, I am a superhero, capable of running long and fast.  You know what else I loved?  The people I passed pushing them.  The looks were amazing and made me feel even stronger.  I love the smiles, the looks of amazement, and the feeling that I can do this.  Even more, I love knowing that dessert is in my future... 

I will run with Sara tomorrow afternoon.  After last Thursday's successful scooter ride/run, she is ready to go again.  I can't believe she actually is excited about getting all nasty hot and sweaty with me.  So proud of her determination.  I have a lot to learn from her!  She has asked me three times this week if we are still running on Thursday.  She is ready for a long fast bike ride, with me attempting to keep up with her.  For the longest time, I have been asking God to help me stay motivated.  I never thought his answer would be through the girls.  I am so thankful this afternoon.  Thankful for people who are so willing to love me extravagantly, even if it is difficult to accept.  Thankful for girls who are my life.  And, really thankful for the confidence I have found within myself.  I am capable of so much more than I allow myself to believe. 

And, as if that wasn't enough, I finally got all the kinks worked out with school and just started my first class officially a senior.  And, as long as the last class didn't do too much damage, I have maintained my near-perfect GPA.  I know that as soon as I hit the publish button, the battle will start.  Every time I announce this struggle didn't get me, or I overcame that obstacle, so much tries to take me down.  This time, I am ready.  I am prepared.  And this time, I know I am gonna win...

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Salvation is Not in Jeopardy...

Yeah, that title is a new revelation, right?  I have been struggling lately.  I am sure it is evident in my lack of posts, as well as the discouraged tone throughout the ones that I do finally publish.  But, God is still good and I am still very aware of that.  So good in fact, that I am once again blown away by the people he has placed in my path, to speak exactly what I needed to hear at the exact moment I needed to hear it.  And, to be honest, those things you need to hear aren't always the things you want to hear.  But, this revelation I desperately needed to hear. 

You see, I have been struggling tremendously.  Trying to hide the struggles with forced smiles, cute shoes and the amazing confidence in knowing who God sees me to be.  Between summer visits leaving me childless for far too many nights, my attempts at keeping myself busy enough to not think too much about those visits, and the obligations I have now committed to, I am tired.  I am burned out.  I am weepy, longing for God's guidance and trying to work my way through life, instead of just living it.  Not that any of this is a criticism to myself, we all say yes when we should say no.  For reasons unknown to us, we seem to always feel the need to say yes.  And yet, there are times we should say a simple, "I'm sorry.  I can't."  I understand this completely.  Whether or not I can or will do it is to be determined. 

A little over a year ago, I was given the best advice possible for the season I was in.  I was told do everything you can to stay busy.  To fall into bed so exhausted I didn't realize there was no one sleeping next to me.  The busier you are, the less you will think and worry.  It worked wonders for me and got me through a really tough spot.  Newsflash: I'm not in the same season as I was a year ago.  I have been running full steam ahead in every single aspect of my life.  Making fun memories with the girls, working at Sara's school when I can, putting in my hours at work, volunteering to do tasks to fill time, as well as the to serve the ministries I feel called to serve in.  I have done a great job.  I only very rarely have nightmares anymore, and I sleep great (after my to-do list becomes my to-done list...).  And I wake up exhausted.

All of this busy-ness has only propelled the need to "earn" my salvation.  When I say no to something that will essentially bless or benefit the church I attend, someone in need, or one of the little people I love so incredibly much, I feel like I am telling God he isn't important, or that I don't appreciate the sacrifices made for me.  For so many years, I was taught that perfection was the only way to heaven, and that my good deeds could help cancel out the bad ones, and even then, I wasn't guaranteed a spot in.  Well, I have totally screwed up in so many different areas of my life, so I often fall back into the habit of working off my salvation.  As if my good deeds could ever be worth the price of Jesus dying on the cross.  Yeah, it wouldn't matter how perfect I tried to be, no good deed could ever benefit anyone as much as He did for me and everyone else that day.  The book I have been doing in the connect group talks about the desire to be perfect, along with the reminder that perfection isn't necessary.  Being perfectly loved is.  The Bible reminds us in several places this desire isn't what God wants for us.  He just wants us to sit back and remember what our salvation is all about, and regardless of our almost perfect or earth-shattering horrible days, we will still be loved.  We will still be saved.  We will still have a meaningful relationship with Him.  Regardless. 

So, struggling tonight.  Between emotions of what this day represents (what is your anniversary supposed to be called when it is no longer your anniversary, anyway?), the start of a new school year, knowing that in order for me to survive right now, I have to accept help, and just overall feelings of unrest, I am just really having a rough little bit.  I unleashed on a friend this morning, dealing with part of my worries and frustrations, and it helped for a while.  Until I realized that the issues I was having and then dealt with weren't the source of my uneasy feelings.  I feel so pulled right now, in so many directions.  As I stood working today, hearing all of the women pour countless hours of time and prep to help me (well, and an entire community of single moms), I felt such tremendous guilt.  Guilt that I wasn't back there helping.  After all, they were trying to help me.  Was it okay for me to not be helping them?  Secondly, guilt that I am where I am.  I hate admitting defeat.  Well, divorce for me was defeat.  I did something I swore I would never do, regardless of the circumstances.  I left work shortly after, realizing my to-do list for the night was tremendous.  I needed to run.  No, I wanted to run.  I needed to get away from all of it, all the pressure, all the stress.  I needed to spend time with the girls before they are gone for yet another weekend away.  I need to type a revision to some bylaws that needed to be finished last week (I know, I am really great at my job...).  I needed to work on a sewing project.  I needed to do homework.  It just felt overwhelming, and like my priorities were out of whack.  I packed myself and Sara up and off we went.  The whole four minutes there, I felt such enormous guilt for leaving the other girls to do something for me.  And, I felt bad because I let one come with me and left the others at home.  We ran, well, actually, I ran.  Sara scootered.  It felt great.  Our time wasn't great, but I perfected the art of running backwards, encouraging a child who wanted to give up, and ran the entire way.  Not fast, but running is running.  :)  I came home to the same craziness that I left, and still felt so restless.  Like I wanted to run again.  After the girls fell asleep, (at the amazing hour of 7 and 7:30!!!) I sat down and in the midst of my chaos, I really just wanted to give up.  I fought myself for a little while, then finally made the decision to reach out.  And, I hate reaching out.  I hate telling someone I am struggling over stupid nonsense, and that I just need someone to listen and tell me it is all okay.  And, even worse, I hate knowing that whatever comes out of their mouth will probably be right.  Basically, I hate feeling weak. 

Anyway, short story shorter, the friend I called said something to me that just blew my mind.  I was told, "Cil, your salvation is not in jeopardy."  It was one of those slap me in the face moments.  Not because this person was out of line, but because it was so not what we were talking about.  But, it was right.  I constantly find myself falling into the mindset that if I am not doing enough for the church, or if I tell someone no, I am going to lose favor with God.  That He is going to punish me for not working myself to nothing.  I told my connect group ladies a few weeks ago that nothing I can do will ever prove or disprove my worth in God's eyes.  No human will ever see me the way God does.  I was talking about the things people have said about me, and how hard I work to prove them wrong.  I made the comment about those nay-sayers never dying to prove what my worth is to them.  Therefore, what they have to say isn't really all that important. 

This is going to sound totally crazy, because as I write, I have become so aware of a few pieces of luggage I need to take off of my back and let go.  I feel sad doing it, but know that right now, it is just too much to hang onto all of it.  And, my salvation will not be lost because I handed the luggage off to someone just as capable, or more.  I will not be doomed to hell because I can't do it all.  I was gently reminded tonight I am not Superwoman.  As astonishing as that thought was, deep down, I know God never expected me to be the hands, feet, arms, legs, mouth, ears and eyes.  I cannot do it all.  In all reality, he probably just wanted me to be an eyelash...  :)

On a more serious note, as I sit back and process things, I realize that peace I was so desperately searching for has settled in.  Apparently, I needed those words far more than I realized I did.  My salvation is secure.  I do not have to worry, I do not have to fear. 

Publisher's Note: Thomas deserves all the credit for the title of this post.  He is the friend that kicked my butt...  ;-)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Not so random thoughts...

This week (ha, it's only Tuesday!!!) has been a rough one.  And, yet, it has been a great one.  It seems like every single thing possible is out there to get me down, and today it almost worked.  Things are going great, seriously, so why I am struggling so hard, I have no idea.  I guess I see the things others get to do, and I get frustrated.  I forget that some see what I get to do and get frustrated, too.  I really need someone to sit with me, hear me, then kick my butt back into gear.  I have been carrying these cards with me in my purse, in my car, wherever I think I might need them.  Today, they were in my purse that I just switched to.  I don't even know how they got there, because I did not put them there.  Anyway, struggling with a massive headache, the longing to just walk away from the craziness that is my life and wishing it were all different, and this is what I found.  I am enough.  Then, it reminded me that this is the exact reason I made the cards.  It so helped.  Life still feels crazy.  Life still feels like I am not in control, and like I want out of this way of life.  I don't like to feel one way and know there is no way around it, you just have to go through it.  I hate knowing the only way to overcome it is to rely on someone you can't see to help you through, and yet, I love knowing that someone I can't see is here to help me when I can't take another step.

Just a funny concept that has been occurring over and over this summer: Love.  At the beginning of summer, the thought of ooey-gooey love made me wish I could just feel it again.  I am not talking about the love I feel for my kids either.  Really really frustrated me.  And then...  :) 

My happily ever after still didn't arrive.  And, I am great with that.  I know that when it is God's time, it is going to land in my lap.  Kinda like the sky and Chicken Little.  I know it is worth waiting for.  However, God has this frustratingly funny sense of humor.  When I first started this blog, I was in this place where I desperately wanted someone, anyone, to just ask me out.  Life happens, I didn't get what I thought I wanted.  And I am so glad.  Yeah, you read that right.  I am glad it didn't happen.  God knows exactly what I need, and he knew the time wasn't right.  Obviously, he feels the time still isn't right and I am pretty great with that.  But, he had some other plans.  Seriously.  The concept of his truly genuine amazing love was slowly beginning to seep in.

I have some massive baggage.  My biological father loves me.  I know this, deep down.  However, I have not talked to him in probably five years or more.  It makes me sad, and has slightly distorted my view of a father's love.  I am in no way meaning to bash or put him down.  I love him and still pray that at some point, things will be different.  Anyway, getting distracted...  Got married young, and to someone I thought truly loved me.  Again, not putting anyone down, just trying to get to the point, eventually.  I guess to quickly wrap this part up and move on, I find it difficult to fathom how much God loves me, because I have been slightly let down in that department. 

I have been doing this connect group for the summer, and as I am getting ready to wrap it up (can't believe I am saying that!), I am kind of looking back over the last "theme" of the season.  The second time I taught, I pulled the "Loved" name tag.  This means I get the loved verse.  I have to explain why I do or don't feel loved by God, and what I can do to help myself with any struggle.  I read the verse, and look at it often.  The first part goes like this, "My love won't walk away from you..."  And that is honestly as far as I get.  Awesome reminder.  The next time, I was so thankful, because "Loved" showed up on someone else.  I even made the comment that I was thankful someone else got to be "Loved" that night.  So, I sit down, open up my stuff, and there it sits..."Beloved"  We got to talking, and decided to look up the exact definition.  You ready?  I wasn't.  Beloved is a person who is greatly (or dearly) loved.  Cherished.  Yeah, I wanted to sit down and cry.  It was just one of those moments that I sat there, trying to lead this group with no words.  So, I was looking at a few different things, struggling again, and finally reach for my Bible.  I am kinda just flipping through, and it lands on this verse, "And 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."  First, I was taken back, because it says it takes power to understand, and that God wants each of us to have the power to understand exactly how huge his love is for us.  At church, I had a conversation with someone about the book The Shack.  In this book, God is depicted as a woman.  It really got me thinking, if this were true, would I still be struggling with accepting that he loves me for exactly who I am?  Take it one step further, and this reality check really put me into something huge.  The Bible talks about a father's love for his son being so big that the father would do almost anything for the son.  If I switched that verse around just a little, the verse would say something about a mother's love for her daughters.  And, this is terms I can relate to, so the revelation has been enormous.  If God loves me anything close to how much I love my girls, I am loved.  Massively, delightfully, unmistakably loved.  Beyond anything I can even imagine.  And here I was this last weekend, walking through Wal-Mart looking for a lesson plan book for work and I got one more confirmation (as if I needed anything more at this point?).  The notebook just said clearly, I know where love comes from.  John 3:16.  It was almost as forceful as if I had been slapped.  I was being challenged.

I know exactly where love comes from, so why is it that it is so hard for me to accept it and embrace it?  Why is it easier to struggle in my strength than to just simply ask for help?  Why is it so difficult to feel that accepting some one's love is more difficult than running from it? 

I have been such a mix of emotions over the last month.  Trying to wait out life, live it the way I am supposed to, and just know that God's got me.  Every single piece of me is taken care of, nurtured and loved.  Why fight that???