Friday, September 28, 2012

Just Ask

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Words and Other Such Ponderings...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 24, 2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 21, 2012


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

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

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

Friday, September 14, 2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Year...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Righteous Purpose

The post I really want to post right now isn't this one.  Not that it matters, but I am trying to stay positive and unemotional.  The post I want to write is not really either.  So, I am going to be positive.  I am going to rest on the fact that God's got my entire world.  He knows my longings, he knows my hurts, he loves me regardless and has great plans for me.  A difficult list of facts to think about in my head, but also reassuring. 

I love the book of Isaiah.  I read little bits of it often, because it is seriously so encouraging.  I opened up my Bible this morning, praying for some peace.  I was flipping to Isaiah 43, but never got there.  Isaiah 42:6 says, "I, the Lord, have called you for a righteous purpose, and will hold you by your hand.  I will keep you, and make you a covenant for the people and a light to the nations."  And, it spoke to me.  In order for me to fulfill God's purpose for my life, I had to experience a storm.  I had to experience difficulty, hurt and the enormous task of forgiving someone who has hurt me tremendously.  And, in all of that, He is still holding my hand.  I have to remember his hand is always on me, he will never leave me. 

This sounds totally silly, but I am so thankful the girls were taught Joshua 1:9 at school.  It says, "This is my command - be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  The girls know it as "Be strong and brave, because God is with you."  As they were leaving on Friday, Jess looked at me waving bye, and said, "Momma, I be brave."  And, it seriously broke my heart and made me happy all at the same time.  While it made me sad to think she feels the need to be brave to go to her Dad's house, I felt so encouraged, because at not even 3 years old, she is learning to rely on the word of God for protection and comfort.  I must learn from her example.  If she can trust God in all things, so can I.

The girls came home last night in low spirits.  Happy to be home, but quiet.  As the night wore on, little tidbits of the weekend came out, causing me to grow anxious and frustrated.  Instead of finding a quiet spot and seeking God's strength and peace, I lashed out.  Well, not really, but sort of.  I laid in bed last night, slightly disturbed by my choices.  And, again, I got to thinking about where I was 2 years ago versus where I am now.  Which got me to thinking about where I was last year and where I am now. 

Two years ago, I had more stress than I could possibly handle.  I was getting ready to celebrate my baby's first birthday, get a handle on life, and was praying for a miracle I never got to see.  God had given me a promise, and in my human-ness, I assumed the promise I had been given involved me and my now ex-husband, now I realize the promise was for me, not for him.  I was sleep-deprived, in school, struggling to not drown, and praying that God would reveal the direction I was supposed to take before I lost myself completely.  Two years ago, I would never have imagined the happiness I have now could be possible for me. 

One year ago, I had more stress than I could possibly handle.  I was waiting for my divorce to be final, struggling with getting used to a visitation schedule, child support, having panic attacks more often than anyone should, was not sleeping because of violent nightmares, and on a nice little prescription cocktail that was supposed to make it all go away.  I cried out to God, but never stopped to accept His help.  I was looking, but not understanding that to receive would also be to let go.  To put it nicely, I was a basket case, not even thinking happiness existed.  Feeling completely lost, alone, and honestly, miserable.  I was so angry with God, because I felt like I was following his directions exactly, and yet receiving no break from the chaos that was my world.  And, by only the grace and strength of God, that is not what today holds for me.  While I struggle with some small issues, I am not the person I was then.  That post will follow soon.  :) 

So, after a restless night last night, I woke up knowing I had to find some verse to stand on for today.  I think it is really funny, because almost every time I am discouraged, the feeling ends after I flip through Isaiah.  Promises of strength, courage and determination are everywhere in this book.  Promises of protection, victory and redemption pour through so many chapters.  One of my favorites says, "But forget all that - it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.  For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway in the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland."  It reminds me that my past is just my past.  And, it is nothing compared to my future.  It cannot come with me, in order to move on, it must stay where it is.  In order to fully accept what God has for me, I must fully lay down my hurts and pains and frustrations.  And, this morning, as the sun was coming up, I couldn't help but be reminded by new mercies each and every morning.  If I get them, I must extend them.  Doesn't mean I have to like what is going on, but it does mean I must forgive and move on.  Difficult, but necessary.  I am so full of emotions, both happy and sad this morning.  And, given a few days, I will probably get most of it out on here.  But, I now have the joy of two wiggly girls on my lap, so I am gonna enjoy them instead of write.  I so love this mommy job!