Sunday, November 27, 2011
I feel pretty bad about not blogging in so long, but honestly, I had "lost the muse". I lost my voice; my thoughts, my opinions. I was numb, because being numb is easier than feeling pain, anxiety, or frustration. When I did think or feel, all I thought about was, "Why am I still here? Why am I not better off?"
It is difficult to take an office job paying less than any other office job I've done and starting so low at the bottom of the totem pole, as if I was a baby. But I am working where I'm working because of the hope of moving past a desk job and to becoming a veterinary technician some day. Other wise, I wouldn't have accepted the offer in the first place, when there were other office jobs that offered me $5-6 per hour more starting off. Then as the months went by, I lost sight of hope and all I could experience or feel was this despair that somehow I'm getting dumber and more incompetent than when I entered the work force 10 years ago!
I also wasn't seeing past the tip of my nose. And I also wasn't looking heavenward, not in any aspect of my life. My kids became work and a hassle, my marriage was on survival mode, my church life was for appearance's sake, and I had nothing to offer.
The lies in my head and my heart were repeated so often I had mistaken them for truth. I was hopeless, faithless, and had no self-confidence what so ever. I was going from day to day pretty much zombified.
But I'm always thankful to God! He never releases His grip on me. He never stops loving me. And when I finally shut myself up long enough to listen, I definitely heard Him speaking. Every Sunday sermon would plant a little seed... water it... nourish it. Little by little I've been seeing more of the Kingdom.
I heard a missionary say this morning that a lot of Christians go to church thinking about themselves; "I need help! I need strength! I need... I need... I need... me me me..." And these people constantly drag themselves from Sunday to Sunday. Not that there's anything wrong with needing help from the Lord, but his point was that maturity comes when we grow enough to show up at church and say, "Lord, Thank You! The cross is all I need, and You've given that for me. Now I'm here to bless You - let Your will be done." I think I've experienced this transition personally.
I can't pin-point a specific instance or moment when, somehow, my job is not just a job. And while I may not have all the details to disclose, I do believe that it is God's purpose for me to be there for this time and season - in accordance with His plans, which are always for good. Seeing this helps me bring my best foot forward, and I trust Him to know I'm not actually going backwards.
I look at our journey this year and I have to be thankful! I haven't been the most responsible, but by God's grace He has sustained us! Paul focused on his medical assistant certification all year, and again - it feels like one of those things where by the world's standards we're going backwards. But I finally believe we are headed in God's given direction, where He wanted Paul to go from the beginning; Paul has a heart to help people, and he's a science nerd. He is so gifted for it! He was created to do that and more. I wouldn't doubt Paul has it in him to be a Doctor, if the Lord so leads him. Every one that has gotten to know Paul, at the core of his heart, knows that he is relentless in believing the Lord for healing. How appropriate for him to put his faith to practice by having a career in the medical field!
My kids are growing and learning to rely on God. I hear them pray at night before they go to sleep and sometimes they are more mature than I am! They never pray for things, they always pray for people. They mostly pray for others. I've seen Anakin pray for children who are mean to him at day care or school with only the prompting of God's spirit. Even Caleb will ask God to bless everyone (dog and cat too) before he goes to sleep. It's my mission to build them up in their understanding of the Lord so that they can openly develop a relationship with Him.
Most of all, I'm seeing God give me my voice back. I'm having more "aha" moments, where something strikes me and I start listening. I'll eventually start writing these down. The main one I'm learning now, while I have to wait on the Lord to open up a job for Paul, to help us catch up financially and prayerfully move us on to a bit bigger apartment... is this:
"Since Jesus went through everything you're going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you'll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want."
1 Peter 4:1-2, The Message.
I'm not being ditched by God - I'm being refined. God has the heat up so that at the end of the day, we are free (fearless, uninhibited, unstoppable) to pursue whatever God may want. I will no longer be bullied by envy with all the things that every one else may have but that really possess no eternal value. God is creating mettle in me.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
I believe forgiveness is key, I haven't quite mastered unlocking that door though. I try. I can look back and see that people just make mistakes... they didn't really mean it. But I guess it always bugs me that they are ok with that; perfectly fine that I have to live with these emotional scars.
Then my real struggle begins when I'm trying not to scar my children in the same way. I don't ever want them to feel the way I do sometimes. I want them to know that they are gifts from God to this world, that He has a plan and a purpose for them, that they are here to do great things to advance His kingdom. Nothing less! No clauses, no fine print on that. Somehow life has made me feel like "I could've.. would've..." but it's too late for me, I'm doomed. And too many people would pitch in and say, "Well, you know... we tried to warn you. That's what you get..." But if this is true, then my children are consequences of a mistake, cursed. It just dawned on me that I was agreeing with this in my heart today and I couldn't stop crying. They aren't a punishment for not making wiser choices and using better birth control. They are seeds of greatness that God has placed under my care to bless me!
Oh gosh, what would that make of my marriage? I refuse to Paul through that either. He's a wonderful person...
I don't want to submit to that feeling, agree with the thought that by just living and a series of events that feel outside of my control I've somehow screwed up beyond repair, past where God could make something of me. But I don't have a whole lot of hope either. And it's so hard when every promise I read in the Bible I feel would apply to everyone else but me.
Why not me?
One day I would love to have the courage, the faith, and the resources to pursue my dream. And I've always said I'd be a veterinarian before I die, even if I go to school for it when I'm 50. I have no dream now though, it almost feels pointless to dream. Why bother desiring anything outside my income? And I'm not worth very much in that department either. It's not like I'm expecting God to step in and do anything for me. We have a place to sleep, food, and a vehicle and I'm no one in His kingdom to ask for anything more.
I'm not saying that these thought processes are biblical or Christ-like. I know that they are not. I'm struggling to replace those thoughts with Scripture in a way that I'll believe and will have as strong of an emotion attached to it. I'd like to FEEL hopeful. I'd like to FEEL faith-filled. I hardly pray.
I'm able to blog about this now because I'm finally able to put it into words. I was at church today during praise and worship and for the first time in a loooong time I felt this release inside my chest, like I could just tell God that I'm struggling with all these things in an open conversation. I can blog about it because I've already prayed about it and left it in God's hands.
There was never any question while Jesus walked the earth IF He could heal people. What people doubted was whether He'd be willing to. "If you are willing, you can make me well." "If my Lord says so, my servant can be healed." People lowered a paralytic on a bed sheet from a hole in the roof in front of Jesus because there was no question that He'd have the power to do something about it... if only He'd notice them.
I know He is willing. I just have to trust Him and wait through this.
In the mean time I hugged my kids and prayed for them during church. And I feed them and do laundry and clean the house come migraines or back-aches, sinus infections or not. I just love them the best I know how at the moment. It involves getting them to school and to church and back home again. I don't know how to do any better for them but I hope it's enough for now. And they love me, and they seem to be doing well developmentally so I must be doing something right.
I don't want encouragement. I want God to stretch out His hand towards me to make me whole again. Not to diss anybody, but it's one of those things I have to experience from Him; His healing touch, His help. I don't know how to explain what I'm looking for other than to say there's not a whole lot anyone can do about it. It takes people who have experienced a supernatural touch from God to understand that I just need Him to stretch out His hand to me.
I experienced a taste of it today, as we were singing. I feel a little bit of healing every time I go to church. I'm thankful to be a part of the church that leaves the door open for God to show up and expects the supernatural.
I can't imagine facing the hardships of life without a relationship with Jesus. I remember living that way when I was younger and I was never satisfied. I'm so glad He's here to help me now.
Monday, August 22, 2011
New Living Translation (NLT)
1 Praise the Lord!
and delight in obeying his commands.
If you didn't think that "obedience" and "commands" can be synonymous with "joyful", then you need to re-evaluate your theology! How can there by joy and delight in "fearing" the Lord! I can say from experience it's peace! I have peace in a right relationship with God. I have peace in obedience because I am not worried of the consequences, for example; the Bible instructs me not to be a gossiper. So I don't gossip at work. Therefore I have the joy and peace that comes from knowing that I won't be responsible for any trouble that work gossip can cause. Random example, not specific to my personal life, but just something to wrap your mind around. The same with lying or stealing. There's no worrying that comes with "getting caught", there's peace with integrity and fear of the Lord. There's delight! There's joy!
2 Their children will be successful everywhere;
an entire generation of godly people will be blessed.
I don't know how to explain this promise... but I claim it! I want my children to be successful everywhere and I believe that they will be blessed.
3 They themselves will be wealthy,
and their good deeds will last forever.
4 Light shines in the darkness for the godly.
They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.
It isn't a promise that there is no darkness, but rather, that we'll have a light shining to help us during the dark times, provided that we meet the qualifications of the word "godly", as defined in the second part of the verse: "They are generous, compassionate, and righteous." Outside from this definition, given by God, of what it is to be "godly"... well... there is no godly! Godly implies being "God-like"... If you are not generous, compassionate, or righteous (and it's all three, not one without the other, that creates a perfect balance!), then you fall short of God's definition for the term. Oh Lord, help me to be these things - specially righteous. I can't do it without Your constant help - at work, church, with the kids, and with friends, help me to make the right choices and have integrity.
5 Good comes to those who lend money generously
and conduct their business fairly.
Aha! I believe it ties in to verse 3, which is where the promise of being wealthy lies; it is fulfilled in being generous and conducting business fairly... in other words, being generous and having integrity in our business dealings! Well, when you think about it THAT way, it's not too far of a stretch to believe that godly people can be wealthy. If we learn to not place ourselves in foolish debt, and to pay our bills, and handle our finances appropriately, and save, and think about what we invest in, and not squander our money in silly purchases... well... that would make any person wealthy (or at least wealthier) over a period of time!
6 Such people will not be overcome by evil.
Those who are righteous will be long remembered.
7 They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
8 They are confident and fearless
and can face their foes triumphantly.
♪♫ No power of hell, no scheme of man
Could ever pluck me from His hand
'Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand ♪♫
9 They share freely and give generously to those in need.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.
They will have influence and honor.
Lord, I yearn to be someone who would be considered generous. I love You, and I want to honor You!! Not for my honor or influence, but for Your sake - to be a good representative of what You've done for mankind!
10 The wicked will see this and be infuriated.
They will grind their teeth in anger;
they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.
It makes ungodly people angry when godly people flourish... they would rather see us fail, fall, or lose hope so they can point a finger at us and say, "Ha! I knew it! I was right and you were wrong!" Well... too bad for them... But you know how you fight back? By getting back up. By not staying down! Your success is the biggest revenge against the Enemy. If you have been hurt, and you want to get back at them - leave them be, it's for God to handle - but You keep moving forward in the service of the Lord, and leave them behind to grind their teeth!
A good source is www.biblegateway.com - they have various reading plans in different versions that you can subscribe via email, so you get your daily reading every day and you can even read the Scriptures directly on your screen. Sometimes I read a verse in one translation and then in another, just to get a more rounded picture of what the message is. I'd recommend that to anyone.
Monday, August 8, 2011
It's a really good Bible study! I recommend women everywhere to try to do it at their churches. It's by Lisa Bevere. I read through the first chapter and I'm hooked!
Now the book and study guide are out of my reach and I'm lazy, so bear with my paraphrase please, I just want to recount the image that's been in my head all day and its significance:
The rangers have just darted a male lion, tranquilizing him so they can work on removing a tracking collar they've had on him. They are about to approach the lion when they hear a growl and from the grass rises a lioness. Realizing the danger they are in, one of them comments, "To get to him, we're going to have to tranquilize her."
That lioness was not gonna let anyone approach her man. I can see myself in that - you insult my husband, or my kids, and it won't be pretty. Most women would agree that we can take a lot of things directed at US versus our family.
It hit me, however, when the question was posed, "How does Satan use the same tactic?" I sat there wowed by the spiritual lesson that was unfolding before me.
They tranquilize the lioness and work quickly, noting how her eyes were constantly fixed on them. "Nothing is more dangerous than a lioness fully awake."
It hit me what kind of threat I would be to Satan and the forces of darkness if I was fully conscious, fully awake. But to be honest I feel like I've been "tranquilized" for a long time! Mostly tired, kinda' lazy... letting day after day go by without doing anything useful, let alone Kingdom-minded! Working to get home, feed the kids, go to sleep, and do it over again. And even in that, I was barely functioning with the kids - just keeping them fed and clean and safe from disaster if at all possible.
It goes further than just me as an individual but also the church, as the bride of Christ. Nothing is more dangerous than the church fully awake!
"But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can't afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!" - Romans 13:11-14, The Message.
God calls us to be awake too, He says it through out even across the different translations. When I think of the different things that lioness accomplish while they are awake, I know they feed their young, they protect their families, they guard against enemies... but I also know one thing - they don't work alone! The lionesses in the pride will work together to accomplish the success of the pride.
Oh, what happens when the women in the church get together to do ministry! And not just be exhausted in "doing", but actually hug, love, pray, encourage each other! And pray with a fire! What would happen if we got fierce about what we believe?
I'm too tired now to get into it like I want to. But the truth is that we women have influence - married or not, there are people that count on us for our friendship, for our encouragement, even for our protection. We need to be awake, alert, conscious as Christians of the call in Romans. I need to be more alert. More mission-minded. More Kingdom-minded.
We need to prioritize our lives so that what we do matters! And stop wasting so much time on those things that don't matter! We need to be fierce about defending not only our families but our faith, because we are a force to be reckoned with. Let the forces of darkness know, "She is here... We can't just walk in, we are in danger!" And we need to bond with each other, welcome each other into the "pride" so to speak... It's not a call to be aggressive towards people, just be alert towards the Kingdom work God created us for.
I guess the reason why this touch of the bible study spoke to me is because I desire it with all of my heart. To really BE there for my kids and my family. To support and offer my strength to my church. To not feel so wimpy, whiny, and scared... So weak, so much of a failure... rather I want to be a threat to the Enemy. Lord, help me wake up from the dart guns that Satan has hit me with, and be about Your work for me here. I want to take my position in my home with courage and faithfulness. I want to arise from this slumber and start moving with the fierce beauty that You created me with, and fiercely open my heart to serving and loving others, offering my growl for those who cannot speak for themselves... No longer afraid of being hurt (again) but with the confidence that comes from knowing that above man, I can trust You.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Tonight I let Paul put the kids to sleep so I can accomplish some much needed housework. Our balcony, our kitchen, and our yard looks MUCH better (and Paul helped with that too!).
I still have a couple of "messes" here and there, which should be taken care of by tomorrow.
I made a chart with all the things I wanted to accomplish each day, so that I break down everything that needs to get done into a few manageable tasks each day. I don't always do everything on the list, but I've been a bit more on-track (at least with school work). I haven't quite exercised yet. And I have woken up every morning to pray - just from my bed... not quite made it to my Bible this week, but I will keep trying until I get there.
I am so thankful for biblegateway.com! I read my bible tonight online. I was in the living room and it was late, the baby was going to sleep and I couldn't keep all the lights on... so I just opened my laptop and read the book of Zephaniah in the NLT. It spoke to me.
I've experienced the sting of judgment, the burn of consequences resulting from all the choices I made outside of God's guidance. But I love how that book ends: "He will rejoice over you with singing, He will calm your fears, He will redeem you with love..." One of those last verses, as if to drive the point - no matter how bad it seems things have to get before you have your head on right and turn in the right direction, your Heavenly Father is right there to receive you, comfort you, and cheer for you from that moment on! There is redemption, and there is restoration.
I experienced His redemption when I accepted Christ as Savior. Through the eternal power of the cross, Jesus pointed to me and told the Father, "This wild child is mine!" He paid the price for me. I belong to Him and there is nothing that can change that. Romans says that there's no height, no depth, nothing in the past, nothing in the present, and nothing in the future that can separate me from God's love. Jesus said, "All those that the Father gives me are mine, and no one can snatch them out of my hand," in John. He is the Good Shepherd, and even if all the other 99 in sheep in His care are perfect and pretty in the pasture, He never says, "Ok... I got 99 left. This will do." Nope. He goes out and finds me, and carries me back to the flock... as many times as it takes until I am in Heaven.
I am waiting for His restoration. I don't know entirely what it will look like, although I have some earthly ideas.
I think restoration for our family will look like a 2 bedroom home (at least) where the kids can sleep in their own bedroom and not on the sofa in our living room. And Paul has a good job. And I'm actually doing good at my job. And we are thriving, versus the "surviving" we are doing now.
I possibly see us plugged in to a church where we are making meaningful connections within the fellowship and have found our "ministries", so to speak - our points of service in God's kingdom where our talents and gifts combine with a need, and we can share God's love in some way...
Maybe I will even have a fully restored heart, free from bitterness, pain, or regret. A heart that truly forgives (I have to wrestle with this one every day). I'd love to be back to my joyful self of having energy and reading books, blogging more often, thinking of things to do for God's kingdom... Hopeful and looking forward to the things that God has with me with anticipation. I can't say that I'm quite there yet, but I am definitely doing better. I'm walking through the valley of the shadows BUT I see the light at the end of the tunnel.
And yet, even when I feel a bit... exiled and a little heart achy... because it's not all that together just yet... As I'm standing on the other side of the Jordan looking into the Promised Land that I should've conquered YEARS ago but I screwed things up in my rebellion... I know that He is with me. His Holy Spirit is always confirming in my heart that He will never leave me, never forsake me. He loves me, I know this, and it strengthens my resolve to keep waiting as I inch forward. He loves me and it keeps me from giving up. Even in His discipline I feel His gentleness on me so as not to break me, not to push me past the point where I can't bear it anymore (oh, how many times I thought I was at the end of me! Only to see that God knew I was stronger than I thought...). He sings over me. I can't help but sing too.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I don't like it... I wonder if it's because bill collectors, or the landlord, or even God Himself would accept that excuse for me.
But I have to be honest in that I feel I need 28 hours in a day to be able to accomplish all the little things I need to do and then some of the bigger projects to tackle. I feel like after I come home from work I can only do ONE thing, then it's bedtime!
I either clean, or study for my Veterinary Assisting class, or do groceries, or read my Bible, or exercise, or train Pepper, or read to the kids. Maybe, with some coffee or coke, I can do two of these things in one night... But that's pretty much it. Unfortunately, these are ALL things I need to do, without neglecting my kids or my husband. And some of these are disciplines that I need to do every day for my own health (be it physically or spiritually)!
The priority level of these things are superseded by the ENERGY level I may have.
I know a lot of people would say that reading the Bible/praying are extras, for when I have time or if the kids fall asleep early. I would have to disagree. Do you want to see me in a crappy mood? Let me go weeks without refreshing my thought process, my heart, and my emotions in God's Word. Any grace that I may have, any good virtue, any thing admirable or praise worthy is all a direct effect of God working in my life through my relationship with Him.
Outside of God I'm cranky, short-tempered, and harsh. Vengeful and spiteful. Lazy unlike anything on this green earth! I do not make a good employee, friend, wife, or mother without God's help. I'm not being preachy, just honest!
And yet I find myself running on an empty tank, hoping I don't break down before the next fill-up, I treat myself spiritually the way I do my car! Paycheck to paycheck, empty to empty.
My physical being needs maintenance and upkeep as well. These extra pounds I'm carrying aren't helping me get over sore joints and aches any quicker. I don't want to slim to a specific size or weight, I want to be healthy! To know that I can run as fast and as far as my kids and my husband if the need arises. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I know the answer is discipline! I'm praying for it, alongside wisdom. Getting up a little earlier, being more productive on my lunch break, getting the kids to go to bed at a sooner hour. Investing time and effort into those things I consider worthwhile a little every day! It frustrates me to KNOW what I have to do and yet have no real intentions of executing it. I sometimes wonder if I am working too much, even though at this point I need to.
Lord, You love me and You know me. You know exactly where I am right now, and how to reach me. I'm calling out to You for help. I need Your strength. I need that strength from Scriptures, like the one that says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Give me the wisdom to prioritize my hours, my day, and thus my life. Give me the joy and zeal during the day to accomplish the things that are important to You! Give me the rest and peace at night so I can sleep and recover from day to day. Give me a passion and a calling that will push me more than what I may be feeling physically or mentally. I am breaking free from pain and fatigue in Your Name, because Your work on the cross made me whole! In the Name of Jesus I pray - Amen.
Monday, July 11, 2011
♪♫ When I climb down the mountain, and get back to my life I won't settle for ordinary things. I'm gonna follow You forever, for all of my days. I won't rest 'till I see You again! Show me Your glory! Send down Your presence, I wanna see Your face! Show me Your glory! Majesty shines about You, I can't go on without You, Lord... ♪♫ - Third Day
This part of the song has been stuck in my head the past few days. I know the whole song by heart but I can't seem to remember the rest of it, just this part. I guess you could call it a "mantra".
I am more complete, more whole, more joyful the more I am in love with my Savior. No matter what my circumstance, or what's been done to me, or how I've messed up - there is no room for discontentment when you are experiencing Christ! And if you are feeling kinda' low lately, know that there is a whole in your soul that only God can fill - there's nothing else under heaven that satisfy you completely.
That satisfaction is what Jesus was referring to when He told the Samaritan woman at the well that "springs of living water would flow" from within those who drink from what He has to offer; the Holy Spirit, refreshing and renewing us from the deepest part inside us.
I went camping this weekend with our church, which was AWESOME. I had a chance to meet and hang out with the people I see in passing on Sunday morning. Made me glad Paul and I chose the church we did. Made some friends and hope to develop these friendships into meaningful bonds as the family we are in Christ.
But the call to go camping wasn't just for the smelly, sticky feeling of not showering for a few days and eating food roasted on a fire, but rather to go up to the mountain and hear from God. I think our family needed to get away and go up to nature to refresh our hearts.
If you are not an "outdoorsy person", you don't know what you are missing! You can't look at nature, be out there in nature, and not see the glory of God. Because the scenery is beautiful (the mountains, lakes, rivers, rocks, trees, flowers, etc.), it is a direct reflection of the beauty of God the Creator. You can't help but appreciate this God who made so many details, so beautiful, for no other reason than for us to enjoy!
In my alone time, I couldn't get past this part of Scripture:
John Chapter 1 1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,[a] and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.[b].
10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.Jesus was the Word that, when spoken, brought about creation in all its glory. And the people He created have missed the mark; we didn't all recognize Him. Some of us even rejected Him. But to those of us who saw Him for who He was - the Glorious One, God made man - He gave us the right to become children of God. Reborn, from God Himself.
Man that was refreshing! I've read this scripture many times. I had memorized this chapter (along with the rest of the book of John) for Teen Bible Quiz in the New International Version. But it came alive in that it was precisely what I needed to be reminded of; I have the right to be a child of God.
I guess I always thought it was something kind of automatic. The problem with that thought process is that very often, with all the trials we've been through, I felt more like an unloved step-child! Like the unwanted child... as if God didn't have enough blessing in store to bless everyone else AND bless me too. But I was wrong!
He gives us the right to become children of God. We can choose not to exercise that right the same way people who have valid driver's license can choose not to drive.
I have been born again as a daughter of God. I am joint heir with Christ, a daughter of the King, an ambassador not just by position, but also by sharing a passion with my Father for His kingdom! Everything He has, I can use, all I have to do is ask. I am not a beggar, a foster, a slave. I am a princess to God!
I guess that's the beauty of the ministry of adoption according to God's Word. In a true, genuine adoption, you are a member of the family with the same rights as if you were born into it. That's why God says our spirits inside us change, to where we see God as "Abba", or in other words, "Daddy!"
It's a smack-in-the-forehead moment when you realize that you KNEW all this. I mean, I'm writing all these things and I know it's nothing new! I've heard it dozens of times before. But now it's personal, it's embedded, it sunk in to my mind and my heart. It was made alive for me this weekend, on a bench, in the bush, with a view of the mountain.
Monday, June 27, 2011
I am just grateful that God is speaking to me. He's showing me things in His Word. He is encouraging me. Every time I read the Bible or go to church He will highlight things for me to take note of; to apply to my life, internalize, personalize... My faith is growing as I read. For example:
Matthew 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[a] and on this rock [that is, the confession that Jesus Christ is the Living Son of God and the Savior] I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[b] will not overcome it.
No army has ever marched on the offensive bringing their gates and their doorposts with them to war. So many people have used this Scripture as an illustration that the church will stand tall in the midst of opposition. But apparently, it's not the church that is just standing tall. It's hell (hades) that is standing, with their gates up, on the defensive. Which leaves us with the only alternative -the church is supposed to be on the OFFENSIVE. We're supposed to be marching, conquering... I know it sounds aggressive, overbearing, and it can feel rude to some people. But the Bible also says that "the weapons of our warfare are not carnal", and "we do not wage war against flesh and blood, but against principalities and demons..." So it's not conquering other cultural groups or actual people, but the demonic forces (which you may or may not believe in) that enslave these people; addictions, depression, fear, abuse... Poverty, injustice, racism... The things in the spiritual realm that can make believers (and unbelievers) miserable and wretched.
10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.
We can march forward past the gates of Hades because the Lord is strong enough to "break down gates of bronze" and He "cuts through bars of bronze". Even the hardest, most addicted, most rebellious heart has the hope of being... well... redeemed! I love this piece of Scripture because it reminds me that even if I'm paying for my own sin, even if I DESERVE the pit and the slavery because I ignored His commands and acted in rebellion, His love is still unfailing! He still does wonderful things for mankind! He still desires to deliver me. He is that good! And I can trust Him not only when I'm in darkness, and in chains, but when my loved ones are as well.
7 Though I am surrounded by troubles,
you will protect me from the anger of my enemies.
You reach out your hand,
and the power of your right hand saves me.
8 The Lord will work out his plans for my life—
for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
Don’t abandon me, for you made me.
I can't read this and not be encouraged. I pray that you are encouraged too. God is good in the midst of our trials. I trust Him - even though I'm not excited about where I am in my life. I know with all of my heart that God wants more for our family than this one bedroom itty-bitty apartment that has no heat in the winter and the pipes leak all summer. More than the cigarette smoke that comes in through the heating vents, than the mixed smell of urine and alcohol of the homeless people that sneak into our unit and sleep in our hallway. But He promised, He will "work out His plans for my life, for His faithful love endures forever". He gave me that Scripture (and you too!) so I can believe He's saying it for me!
I guess that's the point of the Bible. It's way too many words for any of it to go to waste into randomness. All those words (and that book is thick!) is for me. To teach me, correct me, encourage me. He left it all in writing, from the beginning of the world till it's end, for ME to know what He is like, what He has done in the past, and what He can do for me. See, the more I read about Him, the more I come to know His character. He loves me, and wants me to really know Him.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
For the most part, my faith doesn't exclusively require me to go to church; I'm supposed to be practicing my faith Monday through Saturday as well. So as far as the requirements of my faith (read my Bible, prayer, being in fellowship with other Christians, and serving others) I can do that all the other days and in any other setting. So I don't go to church on Sundays out of some sense of obligation.
The reality is that church is there for MY benefit. I am blessed when I go. It enhances my understanding of the Bible for future reading, it has me join with others in prayer, it has me sing and worship with others who love God like I do, and provides an opportunity for me to serve.
I don't know if I can put into words how I am blessed by going to church, or how much of a difference it makes on the rest of my week, but I can try...
I love how at church, I'm no less important or smart than the person next to me. In a society that is so "title" driven, it's so easy for me to feel of less value or competency when compared to my bosses who have degrees or even the next person that went to college for a little more training than me. It's actually pretty frequent to feel "less than" everyone else compared to education, money, cars, homes... But then I walk into church and I'm reminded, by everyone that talks to me and by the Holy Spirit, that I am of infinite value. I'm a child of God! He loved me and considered my value and died on the Cross to redeem ME. And how He walks with me, helps me, guides me is no less for me as it would be for the Pastor or the person with a nicer car in the parking lot. In light of God's economic view, I'm no less wealthier than anyone who can call on His Name. In light of the knowledge of God, He has revealed Himself to me the same way He would to anyone that wants to get to know Him. I never feel "less than" at church. And as long as we're all studying the same Bible I don't know less than anybody else.
It's refreshing to worship with other people, who are as excited about singing and dancing and praising God as I am! It brings me relief from the stress of the week... It gives me joy! God said in His Word that He is worthy of praise... and I don't know of many settings out in public where I can raise my hands or sing at the top of my lungs or dance around to my God and people wouldn't think I was crazy... Mind you, I have no fear of dancing or singing anywhere else, and the awkward stares from non-Christians when my family blesses their food at a restaurant is something we're quite used to. There's just this relief where this kind of expression is the NORM and not the oddity.
I could see how, from the outside, singing and clapping for the Lord can feel awkward. It may not feel like it's part of your personality. But (and this is something you won't understand until you are at this point) it won't matter! When you are in a relationship with Jesus Christ and also have come to know and be loved by His people, you are less aware of yourself and more aware of how good He is! Then expressing love for Jesus in a congregational setting isn't awkward at all. It becomes the most natural thing you want to do when you go to church on Sunday morning.
I love being prayed for, prayed with... I love going and being reminded by the preaching of God's Word and by the testimony of God's people that He is able! That He is strong! And that He cares! And the more I hear of God helping His people, the more I have faith to believe that He'll help me! The more I have the faith to pray for... the more hope I have. So it becomes this cycle of encouragement and hope that works the opposite to the viciousness of addiction; it builds you up instead of tearing you down. It re-energizes me.
I feel God's presence at church. I'm not saying you don't or can't anywhere else. But I really do experience Him at church. He brings light to Scripture in such a way, as the pastor is preaching, that speaks to me. It's like, the Pastor will read a verse outloud, and we are all looking at the Bible, and God will say to me, "See Maria? This is what I wanted you to understand this week. Remember when *insert example here*? I wanted you to trust Me through that circumstance. I know that you are dealing with *insert another example here* and I'm telling you, through this verse right here, that I will take care of it." There is a peace that washes over me, a joy that gets into me...
Most people would think that after spending all morning at church my tank would be full. Quite the opposite, actually. I get home wanting to sing more, to pray more. To read more of my Bible. To go back in the evening or sometime mid-week. Church doesn't drain me, it fills me. I could get into all the theology and scriptures behind the church some other time. Right now I'm trying to keep it simple; church is GOOD!
Some people get saved and then they start going to church. Others start going to church and then they get saved. Either way, glory to God! I pray that everyone who may read this may have a church they can go to where they feel their batteries recharged, so to speak. And I pray that if you are not going to church, that it won't be something intimidating or scary for you. But I just had to share what an awesome experience it is for me... and my kids are really enjoying it too!
Regardless of whether you do or don't, God is always there for you. He's waiting to hear you pray, and He is in the rescue business. He wants to meet you right where you are at and be with you. He wants you to come just as you are. I don't ever want you to feel that if you need God on Thursday night you have to wait till Sunday morning to get it right with Him. Turn to God on Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday... and then come to church on Sunday morning and be loved on, encouraged, and lifted up!
Thursday, June 2, 2011
But metaphorically speaking, those gray clouds are finally moving on! I finally feel like I can breathe, soak in a little bit of sunlight. It took some lashing out, and some prayer from people that love me unconditionally... a lot more patience from the ones who were close to me.
Unfortunately, some people walked away. I was prepared for those consequences. I take responsibility for my part, but at the same time... I don't feel I'm responsible for it all. I definitely don't feel guilty. And as it turns out, those who walked away did so because I did not fulfill their expectations, so it was probably best... I don't think I could ever measure up or pay back to their standards what they seem to have been hoping I would.
It took walking away on my part to find out everything that was going on behind our backs. That's when I came to see how some really felt, and it wasn't pretty. Some of those accusations were even false. I guess I always had the option of fighting that battle and chose to surrender to it instead. They can believe and say whatever they want. I'm not saying anything back. I can't control what others believe of me, so the only thing I can do (which gives me a sense of control, actually) is walk away.
Reminds me, in a sense, of the book of Job. There was Job's story, his friend's story, and God's point of view... everybody was wrong! Job's friends accused him unfairly but Job didn't exactly have it all together either. Which is why when God steps into the scene in the last few chapters, Job says, "I have no understanding. I shouldn't have spoken at all... as it is, I spoke too much, God. I'm sorry." (Paraphrase mine). Only God sees the whole picture and I'm committing it to Him. We really don't know how to judge "right" and "wrong" here on this earth as perfectly as He does, so its best in some matters for us to shut up and leave it alone.
My mother-in-law sent me a book by Corrie Ten Boom, called "I stand at the door and knock". It is described as some of the best devotionals on forgiveness that this woman ever wrote. And she's a pretty darn good source for it! In case you have no idea who she is, she is a godly Christian who went through and survived a concentration camp during WWII for helping Jews. She had german guards do horrible things to her on a daily basis. She didn't just walk away from that camp to say, "Screw you all! I hope you burn in hell!" She walked away with true victory... she forgave! There are testimonies of guards that years later have asked her for forgiveness, and she has hugged them and sincerely forgiven them. She had made her mind up to forgive them while she was still in the camp; many of those same guards heard her pray for them every night. I think it would be a very appropriate book to read right now.
All in all though, I've been praying, and I can't say I've heard God say anything back - rather, He's sat there in the silence with me and put His comforting arms around my shoulders. That's the best way I can describe it. There's nothing in my circumstances that has fixed anything. But in my despair, and when I needed Him the most, He showed me by the power of the Spirit that I'm going through this valley with the Great Shepherd. It means more to me than getting everything I want. I hope others get to experience what I'm talking about right now:
He loves me. I'm not the prettiest or nicest right now. I'm actually quite icky inside. But I'm completely helpless. I don't have any way to bribe God to stay by my side. I lack convincing arguments and I'm past promising to change. I have nothing to offer Him. And I may throw temper tantrums along the way. But He still loves me. And He is willingly, lovingly walking with me. There's nothing I can do to make Him love me more. There's nothing about me that has made Him love me less.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Mind you, I am aware we are a pretty big package. After all, you aren't just taking me in; you also take my husband, and my 3 kids... possibly my dog and my cat too. It's a big package! It can be too much to handle for some... but at the end of the day this is my family and it's the only constant factor in my life that God has blessed me with - these 4 other people and 2 other creatures that I can count on to be there for me and be there with me.
Maybe that's the reason why loneliness strikes so hard and so often for us.
I also suspect that we are so eager to find this home that we jump into relationships and bond quicker with others than they are willing to bond with us... then they get sick of us... then we are left hurt and wondering what we did wrong... when it was the bonding in and of itself. We don't have to be close friends with everybody! Maybe distant friends, once a week if that much friends, will suffice.
Easier said than done. While everyone else has brothers, sisters, parents to be with, at the end of the day its pretty much just Paul, me and the kids. A few phone calls to mom and dad, but with the time difference and distance its hard to coordinate the time for conversations that doesn't steal away from anybody else's time.
I have spent the whole year of 2011 trying to not take things personal and the truth is, everything has only reinforced the thought that we just don't matter. Which I suppose if this is the case then its pretty good that we're all the way here in Alaska and not wasting any of our loved ones' time.
It's actually pretty sad, because most people have no idea what they are missing. Anakin is smart and sharp as a thumbtack! Compassionate unlike any other kid I've ever met. He's helpful and funny... Fun to hang out with... And then there's Brielle, who's smart, can talk about almost anything, and knows just how to smile at you so that she wins - no matter what! Caleb is just a fun little dude. Mostly happy, a bit of a brat, but that's only because he doesn't quite know how to use words to express what he wants... once you figure it out, its all fun and giggles from there! Yeah... you'd have no idea what you are missing.
We have spent the past few years unwelcome, uninvited, ignored, and kicked out... unforgiven, unloved, uncared for. And just when it seems like things are about to look up, like we may just have found that support and friendship we were looking for, we are given a bill to remind us of how much it has cost us, or how much we are not worth paying the price for.
I mean, I never presumed to deserve anything. I know we don't deserve any of it. I guess I was naive enough to hope that perhaps grace and mercy was in the works.
And what gets to me the most is that Paul and I can't get upset over it, can't say anything about it, can't do anything about it - because we are otherwise nailed for it. If we are any less gracious, or unconditionally loving, we are immediately sent to our execution. How dare we, right? We never really belonged in the first place, so we have no right to protest... We're just getting what we deserve.
I only pray people would realize why I react so offended at times: Because almost always, you are not just rejecting/neglecting/ignoring ME. That I could live with. You are also hurting my precious babies' feelings, and my little ones are too young to understand why you are nothing but an old memory now... why they don't hear from you or see you anymore. And if you were hoping they didn't care I'm letting you know that they've asked. Over a number of different church homes, acquaintances, even blood relatives... they remember, and they ask. And I would hate for them to ask of themselves the same question I wrestle with often, "What is so wrong with me? Am I not worth it? Not even a little?" I don't know what is more heartbreaking; the fact that they've expressed these feelings to Paul and me, or the fact that we keep lying to them to protect their little hearts from feeling so unloved.
So we keep moving forward, giving the kids something new to look forward to, hoping one day we find "home". I'm not entirely sure what "home" looks like, but I've always said that "home" will be where someone takes Paul fishing. I don't know why, but I've been waiting for another man to step up and really take Paul fishing. Not a late afternoon lazy attempt at a creek somewhere, the kind of fishing trip you would plan with your son or brother. Where you get up before daybreak, get your best gear together and go during the best season for it. It hasn't happened yet, but I'm hopeful.
I know "home" is where my kids will be loved on and not bribed. They don't need to get gifts or candy to be spoiled, I'd like to see other people help me as they see in them the greatness that I do and love them enough to partner with me in raising them to greatness. I don't mind the proverb, "it takes a village to raise a child". I could use all the help I could get. I've seen people care about my kids this way - I know people I can name that I thank God for every day. There is a lady or two (usually from church, though not always) in every town we've lived in that has covered our family in prayer and have consistently loved on my kids. I'm thankful for these women. I know there are more out there.
I don't know what to expect out of my "home". I guess I don't really ask for anything for myself. I'm a "love it or leave it" kind of person, and people either like me or get irritated by me. But I guess what I've been missing (pretty much since I became an adult) were the people who loved me enough for who I was, where I was, to keep pushing me forward. I remember as a teenager there were adults I could talk to about anything and everything. They were always there for me, cheering me on in the right direction... I guess you can call that "shepherding". And I don't remember (personally and individually) being "shepherd" since I lived in Oklahoma City. It's no easy task, I am a lot of work! I'm not saying no one has cared, because that is not true. But it makes a world of difference the kind of "how are you" responses you get as you are leaving the church building versus an all-nighter in a car... I very lovingly remember that while most teens HATED going to the youth pastor's office, I absolutely loved it. It was a moment where I had his undivided attention and him giving me that length of time meant a lot to me.
I know that life is a series of seasons, and each season brings a change because without change we could not grow. It's sad when I think of the relationship I have with some people in this season that was much more closer and personal in seasons that have passed. I think I'm in a season where the old proverb is true; you can feel completely alone in a room full of people! I think I would've died of loneliness if I had not been working at Petco during the time that I did; found what felt like my only friends in the world to unload with, who joked with me and laughed with me, and encouraged me and let us take showers in their apartments when I was homeless...
It takes effort on my part to direct my mind onto every person, from every season, one by one, and acknowledge that they have loved me and have been kind to me, that they have expressed their care for me - even if I cannot say it about everybody I know, usually in every place and season in my life God has placed people who loved on us when we needed it. I am thankful. In my prayer time I name these people, one by one, and thank God for them, and ask God to bless them. But we are still lonely... and we are still roaming...
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Cansado del camino | I'm tired of this road
sediento de Ti | I'm thirsty for You
un desierto he cruzado, sin fuerzas me he quedado | I've crossed a desert, I'm left without strength
vengo a Ti | I come to You
luche como un soldado | I fought like a soldier
y a veces sufrí | And sometimes I suffered
aunque la lucha he ganado | Even though I've won the battle
la armadura he desgastado | I've worn out all my armor
vengo a Ti | I come to You
Sumérgeme | Take me under
en el río de Tu Espíritu | In the river of Your Spirit
necesito refrescar este seco corazón | I need to refresh this heart that's all dried up
sediento de Ti | And thirsty for You
Sumérgeme | Take me under
This song has been in my head the past couple of days probably because its an accurate description of how I feel. I am still waiting to get to that "river", so to speak. I feel that I'm closer, or at least that I'm headed in that direction, but I'm not quite there. Not now. Not just yet.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
I open to my daily reading and its 2nd Chronicles chapters 22-25. And in the devotional for the daily reading it points out that the saddest thing about King Josiah's time is that the Word of God has been missing for years but nobody really missed it.
Well God always has a way of letting things strike me when I'm dense... and I'm pretty dense!
I read on to see this young boy take over his father's reign in Judah. His dad, Manasseh, was the most wicked king in all of Jewish history. His 55 years of terror brought Judah to a point from which they could not be recovered spiritually or physically. In the last chapter of Manasseh's life, he finally repents - when he's broken, captive, and useless. It was too late for the kingdom.
But it wasn't too late for Josiah!
Josiah becomes king at 8 years old and doesn't seem to do much to run the kingdom until he is 18 or so. He starts getting involved in rebuilding the Temple of the Lord, and this project seems to pop up as one of the first things he does as king. As he invests in the Temple's repair, they find the Scriptures, otherwise known as "The Book of the Law". Basically all of Jewish history up until his kingdom. Everything God has ever spoken to His people. All of God's instructions thus far. All of God's warning.
The guy who finds it doesn't even know what it is! He takes it to the king and says, "Yeah we gave the money to the construction overseers and they are taking care of the temple and getting the wood and carpenters and mason work, etc... oh and by the way, we found this scroll."
But when Josiah reads it, not only does he recognize it but his heart breaks. He realizes that he hasn't done a blessed thing God has instructed. More over, the nation hasn't done a blessed thing God instructed since as far back as he had knowledge of! Somewhere there it says that they had not celebrated the Passover (the big celebration God instructed the Hebrews to do in memory of their exodus out of Egypt and their freedom from slavery) since the times of King Solomon! How much time was that? Well, King Solomon was like the 3rd king in Israel... Josiah was the 3rd-to-last king in Judah before the Babylonians wiped everything clean and stripped them all away to captivity.
Josiah prays and repents, and sends the priests to ask God if all the judgment they deserve was coming upon Judah. God responds with a "Yes, but because you have turned to me with all your heart, it will not happen while you are alive to see it." The judgment of exile was inevitable; hundreds of years had already turned the gears in motion, the Babylonians growing stronger and practically at the door. Multiple sieges had already happened. But in God's mercy, He listened to Josiah's heart, and gave Josiah a second chance.
Josiah went to work with his second chance too. He wasn't satisfied with, "Oh, I'll be ok. Nevermind then." It seems he still tried to turn the nation right side up again, even though it didn't outlive him. He tore up the asherah poles, destroyed the molech altar, cleaned up the temple, instituted the Passover again... Spent the rest of his life trying to clean up hundreds of years of idolatry until he was killed in battle by the Egyptian Pharaoh.
Then the book ends with siege after siege until finally the Babylonians take everything, burn the temple to the ground, destroy the wall of Jerusalem, and leave it like a ghost town.
I want to have a change of heart like Josiah. I don't want to be ok with the Word being missing from my life. I realized how thin and gray the line between a relationship with God and a religion goes, how suddenly I found my self on the side of a dead religion!
Man, how good it felt to pray, and count my blessings, and truly tell God how sorry I was. I had built up little shrines of idolatry based on selfishness, busyness, worry, and distraction. But God in His mercy didn't just let me go. He had been working in my heart answering prayer, showing me a light at the end of this particular tunnel I was going through. He was still my Shepherd, calling me as I was straying further and further away. I still don't know why today was different than the past couple of weeks and I just decided to pick up my Bible and read it. I am thankful that, unlike Josiah, there isn't an irrevocable wave of destruction headed towards me and my children. There isn't centuries of idolatry and immorality to undo.
I asked Jesus to protect my children from the effects that these past 2 weeks might've had on them; that their hearts wouldn't be hardened, that they would still be open and eager to come to know Him, and that I didn't in any way hurt them (by omission or commission). I asked him for help in healing Caleb, remembering the scripture in Mark where the man with leprosy approached Jesus and said, "If you are willing, you can make me clean!" The Bible says that Jesus was full of compassion and said, "I am willing..." I know He has compassion for us, and for Caleb, and is willing to touch His little body. But most of all, I asked Him to turn my heart back to Him. It isn't something that I can do, or that church can do. But He can draw me in to a relationship that my heart will follow.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Personally, I can't STAND it. It irks me to no end in any way shape or form. I don't tolerate duplicity or excuse it. Some people justify it by implying that your church life, your home life, and your work life are separate. I disagree! Who you are and how you treat people should be the same all the time.
I know how painful it is to children when their parents act one way with them in public and a completely different way in private. And I've seen it happen to both ends; the parents that are affectionate at home but distant at church, and the parents that are affectionate in the grocery store but cold at home. I decided I don't want to put my kids through that.
It goes further than how you act. A lot of people get uncomfortable with how you FEEL. It seems that, specially if you are a "Christian", expressing anger, frustration, or hopelessness is inappropriate. No one would deny that you can experience these emotions regardless of where you are in your faith, yet demonstrating these emotions to the "public" seems to be an act of faithlessness in and of itself!
I don't like stuffing how I feel. Those emotions bind to you so hard when you keep it inside... and they grow like weeds. I'm struggling with unforgiveness from my childhood due mainly to the fact that during these times I couldn't express my anger and my frustration then! And it plagues me now. Oh how I would've loved to just let it out, have dealt with it then, and moved on!
So now I don't want to keep locking in more stuff.... I've enjoyed just venting on my blogs and on facebook in a sort of uncensored manner.
I've been angry lately. I despair a lot. Worry gives me insomnia, insomnia makes me cranky during the day, crankiness makes me angry at everything that goes wrong. It's a vicious cycle that I have no power to break on my own. Not that it justifies me being rude or mean at home or at work - because it doesn't; I still owe everyone the same kindness, gentleness, and love as if I felt great and happy. But it's a rut I'm learning to crawl out of and I think it's only fair that everyone be warned.
I express my emotions to my kids. They may be too young to understand the whys or hows, but they definitely get, "Mommy is sad right now". Or "Mommy is mad". Sometimes they try to fix it. Most times they give me hugs (and apologies if required). I always try to tell them why I'm upset/sad, or at least that it isn't their fault and they didn't do anything for me to behave this way. And the odd thing is, this helps so much! Because they help me more, and I'm not taking it out on them. Even saying it out loud: "Mommy is having a bad day. It's not your fault, I just need a few minutes." I audibly remind myself not to be snappy at them or easily agitated... "It's not your fault..." I remember the source of my crankiness and I can separate myself from it and just be "Mom" to the kids. I want them to always know they can express what they feel - and that they won't be penalized for their feelings, only held accountable for their actions.
I never was one to keep secrets in the first place. I don't even enjoy friendships loaded with secrecy, I'd rather be on my own! That goes for myself too.
But the truth is that there is a testimony to the rest of the world in being an open letter. Because if in my despair, in my lack of faith, I suddenly find myself encouraged, the world can see and know that it wasn't due to any of my virtues but only because of my God. He is glorified when it's obvious and apparent that He is the Source, and not anything I can find or accomplish. And the reality is that it isn't "Maria is optimistic" but rather, "Maria has hope thanks to Christ." It's not "Maria is cheerful" but rather, "The joy of the Lord is Maria's strength". It's never been "Maria can handle it", but always "Maria can do all things only through Christ who gives her strength"...
People may disagree, but I'm finding that in my weakness, in my ugliest, and in my worst, the Cross has never been more desirable! How appealing redemption has become for me! How much more I appreciate Jesus taking my place on the cross, giving me a right standing with God that I don't deserve or can ever achieve on my own. Oh how I depend on His fellowship, His grace, and His mercy for healing while I walk through this valley! How much freedom I am experiencing as I open myself up and find that He loves me as I am now - and not based on what I'm supposed to be!
Monday, April 4, 2011
And it's just that we are in re-certification... for everything...
We got the day care settled. The kids are in school full-time and our payment is only $28 a month. Or at least, it would be - except our current day care charges $5 more per day so we're actually paying $103 a month per their math. but compared to $217 for only 9 days a month, we are not complaining.
And this month drained me completely. Just as I'm starting to work my tail bone off and kind of make money at my job everything starts going downhill. I just can't keep doing this anymore.
So I'm looking, dropping off resumes, going to interviews. Waiting and seeing what God may have for me. I am willing to do an excellent job wherever He places me. I trust Him! I'm not worried because I know God will open the right door at the right time. He takes care of our needs. He knows what I need better than I do!
Which means I'll have to go through the food-stamps/daycare paperwork one more time, probably beginning of May. I'll have to change the kid's day care again because I may not need to drive that far south anymore. I have to notify them of the job change and the new income and let them determine all over again what we are going to get. And I'm alright with doing all of it ONE more time.
It's all worth it for Paul to go to school. He's going to school full-time, he's getting good grades. He's enjoying it, seeing himself in a new career field, and I know that once he graduates he'll get good job. The sky's the limit for him! He can then go on to nursing, or even becoming a doctor. It may take a few years of studying, then paying off the student loan, then taking a few more classes with the money we save up... It'll be worth it. We just have to make it until then!
I just need God to hold me up until then. I'm ready to sleep for the next 4 weeks and just wake up when it's all over. I need so much grace, mercy, forgiveness.... I'm such a short fuse with the kids, I always have a migraine, I can't tolerate them just being kids. I don't have any energy. I barely have an appetite. I'm a zombie. Just going from one to-do thing to the next... jumping from one hoop to the next. Paying a little bit of one bill, then another. Functional just enough until I can finally but my head to the pillow and sleep... and then start over again!
Pepper's company is really a blessing to me. She's like my comfort blankie. Everyone has something that helps them to feel a bit better than their circumstances are. To some people it's a night at a bar, or a specific food. It's the reason why a lot of women have hobbies. Well I can't crochet and I don't bead but I enjoy dogs. I like walking, cuddling, training. Pepper helps me change my countenance and reminds me that being home can be fun.
The kids are adorable, too. They are growing so fast and they do so much already! I'm just amazed at how we blink and they hit milestone after milestone... how much Anakin and Brielle talk! How much Caleb does on his own! I wish I didn't see them so much as "work" when I'm home (diapers, laundry, baths, dinner, bedtime) and just enjoyed their company. I'm praying that the sound of their laughter doesn't pierce through my skull and make me want to beat my head into the wall. They are so special, just the way they are. I can't be the Mom they deserve out of my own strength. I am dragging myself on God's love and His peace.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
I have to say, the birth control pills are helping me, chemically, find some balance and its so refreshing to not feel like so much of a yo-yo based on whether I'm going into a menstrual cycle or coming out of one.
But that is a small, small part of the bigger picture. The big picture is always the condition of your heart. Which is why so many Christian songs are dedicated to opening the eyes of our heart; we need to see things accurately. A lot of times the pain, the frustrations, and the disappointments fog up the mirror of God's mercy and kindness, or they crack it - to where you can't see a clear reflection of His love for you and His pure goodness. You start to wonder if He really is that good... or why He would put you through so much pain.
It's the "Wilderness Mentality". The Israelites were in the wilderness for 40 years. This was of their own consequence - they walked up right where God told them to go and said, "No!" Thus they had to walk around for 40 years in the desert. That was the sting of their discipline. They grumbled A LOT. But in this trip, as you read, God was doing amazing things to take care of them! He was raining food from heaven. Bringing water from rocks. Their shoes never wore out. He protected them from everybody else. But they were too busy thinking, "Oh, it was soooo much nicer in Egypt!" to even thank God for his goodness towards them.
And so you see, even though they were no longer slaves, and they were out of Egypt, they weren't really free. Their mindset wasn't free.
I feel like I am wondering around in the desert, complaining as to how long will I have to go through the same crap over, and over, and over again. And I am asking God if I will ever settle; have our home, our land, and our place in His kingdom. But I HAVE to overcome the wilderness mentality. I am entirely dependent on God to open my eyes and show me that there is more to this desert than just barrenness; there's also a walking relationship with Him! I'm missing out on Him in all my complaining.
I long desperately to be free. Primarily in my heart! Free from depression and discouragement. Free from the guilt and shame and the baggage I'm carrying from all my screw ups and the consequences of them. I can picture the Israelites being looked on by all the other nations like, "Look at those morons! God set them free from Egypt and now they are walking around in circles!" However, I just can't free myself. If I could, there'd be no point to this blog.
So for now I'm just focusing on day by day. No sense looking back, there isn't much to look at anyways. Plus you can't drive forward staring at a rear-view mirror all the time; you're bound to crash. And I'm making a conscious effort not to worry about the future; whether God lets us screw up for another 40 years or helps us to get things straightened out within the next two years is pretty much out of our control anyways. All I can do is try my best for today, to make the best choices I know how to make, TODAY, and then the rest is placed in God's care.
I have to learn to trust God all over again, and I can't do it if I'm focusing on anything else other than Him in the here and the now. He is good, to me, TODAY. I want Him to free me so bad I crave it with all of my heart.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Lots on my mind though...
I find that when I'm struggling with depression, reading good books helps tremendously. I've been prescribed birth control for anti-depressant purposes (since it never worked for actual birth control purposes, LOL) with the goal of balancing my hormones. Specially during the winter, when I get so little natural sunlight, and it seems to throw me in for a loop. But with these kinds of things, medically, it takes about a month for it to really have effect.
So between here and there, all I have is prayer and... redirecting my thought process. I have to get my mind off the negative, and its very hard to think negative thoughts when you are reading a really good book. I learned this from a wise mentor I had once...
So I'm reading, "When I Don't Desire God" by John Piper. I happen to like John Piper, because he's the man who produced the famous quote: "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." Brilliant! Anyhow, in his book, he talks about how there is no real joy in Christianity without a passionate desire for Christ, and without the joy and desire it's no real Christianity. I may have just talked myself into a loop. But his argument is that Christianity based on just doing the dos is not one that glorifies God or draws others to be interested in Christ. I can kind of parallel it to sex (with the author's permission, because he uses this analogy too); the difference in the experience of sex between both the man and the woman when there is a desire for one another and a joy (or pleasure) in one another... versus sex out of obligation, fear, or manipulation.
Wow. That parallel actually helped tremendously! For me anyhow. Paul would feel terrible if I only had sex because I feared the consequence of not doing so, or if I only did it because I was obligated as his wife. I can imagine how Christ feels about our worship, or our "Christian" life if we lived solely in the dos and don'ts in order to avoid hell or simply out of moral duty. And I shall insert a quote here:
"If Christ is followed only because his gifts are great and his threats are terrible, he is not glorified by his followers. A defective lord can offer great gifts and terrible threats. And a person may want the gifts, fear the threats, and follow a lord whom they despise or pity or find boring or embarrasing, in order to have the gifts and avoid the threats. If Christ is to be glorified in his people, their following must be rooted in... His glorious Person...His works are great because He is great."
On the flip-side, Paul would also feel horrible if I needed to use sex to manipulate him to get something else I wanted. He would probably be appalled that I didn't believe he cared enough about me to give me what I wanted or needed regardless of whether or not I had sex with him. I think this is the real challenge; to not try to be a "Christian" just to get your prayers answered. But its so hard! The bigger the need, the more I feel obligated to be on "my best behavior", simply so that by my own screw ups I don't get left behind or neglected. Maybe a little bit of Santa Claus mentality? "He's making a list, checking it twice - gonna find out who's naughty or nice..." It gets quite exhausting!
Well when manipulation doesn't work, I turn to despair and hopelessness. And hope can be so difficult to hold on to; to sincerely believe that better things are on their way and be thankful and excited even though they are not here yet? I am so weary I may as well be dead by the time they arrive and so I consider it useless. But living without hope makes the fight worthless - why wake up in the morning? Why even try? So in being hopeful or hopeless I find myself wavering between the lesser of two difficulties, depending on my mood that morning and on how effective I am at altering the course of my thought process into a better perspective. "As a Man Thinketh..."
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
They kind of sounded something like this at first: "Piss off."
When I'm in this mood, run away if you can.
I have to be honest, I'm just sick and tired of people. Mankind. And I don't have the patience for anyone's stupidity.
The reason being is probably that I have a lot more on my plate to deal with between my husband and my kids to deal with you. And if I work with you, then you are like... down on the fourth tier of my priorities because I want to have a good working relationship with you since I spend a lot of time with you. And yes, that puts you higher than a lot of other people. But everyone else can just piss off.
So I've been thinking as to what put me this way. If I think of individual friends and loved ones I can see that I do care about them and love them. But here's what it boils down to:
I don't want to hear your drama more than ONCE if you're not going to take my advice. I don't give my advice very generously either, so if you ask me, "What should I do?" then you better be seriously considering it. But don't waste my time just because you want to be drowning in your drama for no good reason:
- Bad relationship? Break up. Tough marriage? Work it out. Good relationship? Get married. If I wanted to be sucked in to a never-ending soppy love story I'd watch the Titanic again. I can only handle other people's romances (fictional or non-fictional) for oh.. 90 minutes per case.
- Finances are tight? You either a) get another job b) go to school and do something to better yourself to get a better job c) stop shopping and start prioritizing.
- Kids are out of control? Spank them. Or put them on time out. Your pick, you're the parent. But if you are letting your children run your home instead of you then don't smirk at my parenting advice. I have 3 kids under 5, do you hear me whining about my kids being out of control? No. Are they perfect? Heck no. But Paul and I are the ones in charge even when it's easier not to be.
It may sound heartless, but I'm just saying... there are people with real difficult situations that are legitimately stuck and standing by faith. Or not standing by faith and struggling. If your drama lasts more than 21 days it's because you've now made it a habit and you want it to be. Grow some balls, tell other people to piss off if need be, and be happy! And then let everybody else be happy too!
I could have compassion if you are a military wife and your husband's on deployment... you may need a shoulder to vent and obviously have matters in your heart that are weighing on you - which will no-duh take longer than 21 days. I'm not completely heartless. Or if your kids have behavioral issues because they have disabilities. Or if your financial situation is something that would take years of hard work to resolve. Geesh I'm not heartless. By all means, whine away! If you've faced a long battle with cancer, or had to take care of a loved one with a terminal illness for years on end... It goes without saying that you are not looking for your drama or perpetuating it by your own decisions.
But otherwise, don't tell me what you are unhappy with unless you are also sharing what you are doing about it. And if you are just going to sit around to be unhappy don't expect me to sit and join you in your pity party.
Here's the other side of this coin:
I don't want to share my business with you. And if I don't, its because I don't believe you are qualified to give me any advice. So I don't want to hear your two cents! If I open up and share with you or whine in public, you can do one of two things: a) say, "that sucks" and nod b) Say, "this is what I did in a similar situation... if its of any help" and leave it alone. I don't want to be converted to your thought process because, like YOU, I'm going to do whatever I feel like doing anyways.
I have found that people love to take you when you are down and find points to criticize you or judge you.... Oh how they are quick to jump on you like you're a freakin' trampoline and tell you all the things you've done wrong (according to them) and basically point out why you deserve your trouble. Or you talk about my husband - which is the perfect thing to do if you want me to shut you out. So don't look surprised if I'm keeping to myself. It may very well be that there is nothing talk-worthy going on in my life to share. Or its simply that my time is precious and I don't think I'll benefit at all from having a conversation with YOU.
Show me the walk behind your talk. Another peeve of mine is people who use cliche faith phrases like, "oh, just wait on the Lord..." Really!? When have YOU ever done anything other than instantly gratify your every fleshy desire? You want to suggest to me that I need to have faith, wait patiently, and be obedient... When there is nothing about your life that would indicate to me you are doing the same? Yeah your words are falling on deaf ears. Specially if when I point out the same to you, you can give me all your excuses for why you're NOT doing things biblically.
There are very, VERY few people I genuinely listen to for advice or encouragement, specially when it comes to spiritual matters. If I'm struggling with belief, I would look or listen to someone who is believing in God for very big things. But if you don't even have the faith to commit and serve your church how can you possibly tell me to believe in a God or trust in a God that you obviously don't? At least, not entirely?
Oh but its so convenient to turn to a psychologist, sex, credit card, or medication to help YOU with your situations... and yet all you have to offer me is to, "have patience?" Not that a psychologist or medication are bad in and of itself, and its good to recommend these if need be. But when you are obviously not the kind of person that has fought any demons (or "personal battles") because you instantly gratify whatever it is that is bugging you, don't just conveniently tell me that I should, "wait and things will get better".
Bigger thing is, don't try to give me marriage advice if you are not married. Don't give me parenting suggestions if you are not a parent. Don't give my financial advice if you are in debt. Don't give me spiritual advice if you are not obedient and faithful under fire. You are not qualified.
With all that being said, there's not a whole lot of people I even want to talk to or hear from. There are even less things I want to talk about with the people that I do want to talk to. I know I'll have a couple of my friends read this and go, "fine! Screw her!" But the reality is, I respect you enough to not waste your time with my drama, and I'll appreciate it if you don't waste my time with yours. I have a 0 tolerance for drama, I don't like being in it myself, and I'd rather resolve it as soon as possible. I don't linger in uncomfortable or unpleasant situations unless I distinctly have God instruct me to stick it out. I can't keep up with duplicity. I can't remember who you are friends with and who you are not. I can't keep track of what it is that you are doing that no one is supposed to know because I don't live with secrets (ever wonder why Paul and I got married so quickly out of high school? Long story short: To do what we wanted to do - which was be together - and tell anyone who didn't like it to piss off. We paid the price for telling others to piss off - we are still paying the price for that. But I'm not going to try to fool others and I'm certainly not going to be fooled by your excuses).
If you want to do whatever you want, GO! But have the balls to own up to it before everyone! I may tell you its not the best way to do it, I may even encourage you not to do it, but at the end of the day if you don't listen to me, it's entirely your choice! I truthfully, more today than ever, can honestly say that I don't do anything I wouldn't want my Mother to find out about. I never said I don't do anything she wouldn't like me to do. But I only have ONE life to live and I'm only going to live ONE way and I can't keep track of any lies or secrets so I may as well live with the truth on all sides. Right now the truth is that I want half the world to just piss off. Unless you are buying me a caramel mocha and taking me to do something fun I don't really want to hear it.
You either like that or hate it... Either way, this is me, my emotions on my sleeve. You can disagree and be my friend or go and stay out of my way.